Niles, Edwardsburg advance to Division 2 District semifinals

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, November 2, 2022

EDWARDSBURG — Host Edwardsburg and Niles advanced to the Division 2 District volleyball semifinals with sweeps of their opponents Tuesday night.

While both the Eddies and the Vikings won 3-0 against Dowagiac and Berrien Springs, respectively, both did it in much different ways.

Niles (25-17-6) rolled past the Shamrocks 25-9, 25-7 and 25-11. Edwardsburg (23-7-5) had a work a bit harder against the former Wolverine Conference foe Chieftains 25-20, 25-19 and 25-15.


Niles vs. Berrien Springs

It took less than an hour for Niles to advance to Thursday’s semifinals against Benton Harbor.

The Vikings, co-champions of the Wolverine Conference, used a dominating front line and numerous unforced errors by Berrien Springs to earn the sweep.

First-year Niles coach Samantha Zimmerman was happy that her team did not receive a bye in the opening round as it had not played a match in almost two weeks.

“I was excited to get everyone in and to work on some things,” she said. “We could have been a little bit more focused, but I think we did a good job adjusting to their free balls and that type of thing.”

The Vikings will be overwhelming favorites against Benton Harbor in the first semifinal Thursday night at 5:30 p.m. at Edwardsburg High School. Zimmerman said that her team will continue to work on things that they need to improve on as the tournament progresses.

“I was excited to have tonight and Thursday to practice things, and to have practices between matches, and to keep working on us. It is not about our opponent right now. It is about us.”

All-stater Jillian Bruckner led a balanced Niles front row with 10 kills, while Bree Lake added six kills. Kendall Gerdes and Tanaya Brown both finished with five kills. Gerdes, Bree Lake and Brynn Lake all had a block.

Brynn Lake led the Vikings with 19 assists and a pair of aces. Anna Johnson finished the match with 17 assists. Amelio Florkowski led Niles with seven digs and Kailyn Miller five digs.


Dowagiac vs. Edwardsburg

The Eddies, who shared the Wolverine Conference championship with Niles, were pushed by the Chieftains throughout the three sets, which Edwardsburg Coach Sarah Strefling said her squad needed in preparation to face Buchanan in the semifinals on Thursday.

“We didn’t show up like I had hoped,” she said. “I am hoping that we play better on Thursday. You had to play the good teams at one point or another, so kind of that perspective we worked through things. I would rather come out with that win and work through that adversity because you cannot always be on.”

Edwardsburg used their dominating front line to gain control of the match at key moments of each set.

Drew Glaser led the Eddies with 10 kills, while Liz Pederson added nine kills and Sarah Pippin eight kills. The trio also combined for four blocks. Ava Meek led Edwardsburg with 17 digs and four aces, while Lexi Schimpa finished the night with nine digs, three kills, a block and 24 assists.

Dowagiac ended its season on a high note under first-year Coach Amber Todd. The Chieftains never gave up and kept the match close through the first two sets.

“We played well, but we just didn’t execute at the right times,” Todd said. “When we were ahead we didn’t stay ahead and we let them back in it. We have been working on our new offense and it takes time, especially when you were working on running faster stuff. There are going to be more hiccups. We have been working on it all year now, so next year when we come back it will be a lot smoother.”

Caleigh Wimberley led the Chieftains with eight kills, three aces and six digs, while Alanah Smith had seven kills and a block. Maggie Weller finished with four kills, an ace and an assist. Abbey Dobberstein finished with two kills, an ace, two assists and a team-high nine digs.

Brooklyn Smith led the team with 16 assists to go along with three aces.

The Chieftains end the season with a 23-15-4 overall record.