Niles routs Tigers; Bucks knock off Eddies

Published 1:37 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

EDWARDSBURG — Two matches that could not have been more different led to Niles and Buchanan advancing to the Division 2 District Volleyball Tournament championship Saturday at Edwardsburg High School.

The Vikings (26-17-6) completely overwhelmed Benton Harbor 25-2, 25-5 and 25-9 in the first semifinal Thursday. The Tigers did not score a single point off of their offense.

In the second semifinals, the host Eddies were defeated by the Bucks for the second time this season 3-1. Buchanan used a dominating performance from senior Josie West to defeat Edwardsburg 20-25, 25-23, 28-26 and 25-20.

The championship match is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday.

West, who picked up her 1,000th career kill early in the match, seemed to come up with a key kill every time the Bucks needed one. She got plenty of help from her front-row teammates — Faith Carson, Alyssa Carson and Chloe Aalfs — as they combined for 44 kills and five blocks.

West ended the night with 18 kills, while Alyssa Carson, who gave Buchanan a 25-23 win in the second set to tie the match at 1-1, finished with 11 kills. Aalfs and Faith Carson had nine and six kills, respectively.

Faith Carson delivered the winning kill in the third set, which the Bucks won 28-26, to take a 2-1 lead.

Edwardsburg (28-8-5) tried to get back into the match in the fourth set, but could not stop the Buchanan momentum.

“Josie West is Josie West,” Buchanan Coach Shelly Bossert said. “She played her butt off. She just dominated. No one could stop her at the net. I was so proud of her.”

West and her fellow seniors played like this could be their final high school match. They played with a desire and urgency that only comes out in the state tournament.

“Everybody loves this team,” Brossert said. “Everyone says they don’t want it to end. Even my basketball girls say they don’t want it to end. After what happened last year in districts, they said they don’t ever want to feel like that again. That has been their goal all season. Just keep playing. Don’t ever stop.”

West said that she understood what was at stake and what the consequences were if she and her teammates did not give it everything they had.

“The adrenaline and just knowing that it could have been my last game, so I just wanted to fight for my team and to fight for myself,” she said. “I also know a lot of them from club [volleyball], so it was a fun game overall.”

West said the team did not panic after dropping the first set because the Eddies did the same during the regular-season meeting.

“We didn’t really freak out because we knew we could get it back,” she said. “That is what we did.”

Edwardsburg was led by Drew Glaser, who had a match-high 22 kills to go along with 13 digs, three blocks and an ace. Sarah Pippin added 11 kills, a block and three digs. Nisa Shier finished the night with nine kills and a block. Lexi Schimpa had 41 assists, 11 digs and three kills.

Sarah Strefling, who returned to the Edwardsburg bench this season, said she was disappointed with losing to Buchanan, but felt her team played well.

“I do not want to take anything away from Buchanan because they are a good team, but when the match got tight I thought the refereeing, and I am not one to say they make or break a game, but tonight they did. It is frustrating because in a heated game it changes the momentum that ended six senior’s careers.”

Strefling was quick to point out that the Bucks used their experience and desire to win as the reason they came out on top.

“Buchanan has some athletes that battle and don’t want to lose,” she said. “I have talked to come college coaches about a couple of athletes here, and they want kids that know how to win and know how battled. You would think that makes sense in sports, but it is hard to find. They have a couple of kids on that team that know how to win.”


Niles vs. Benton Harbor

The Vikings were hoping to get some work in against the Tigers, but Benton Harbor struggled even to get the ball over the net.

Instead, Niles Coach Samantha Zimmerman had to settle for getting everyone some playing time and even letting some people do things they might not normally do in a more competitive match.

Jillian Bruckner led the Vikings with five kills, while Bree Lake and Nyla Hoover both had four kills. Lake had eight aces, while sister Brynn Lake finished with six aces, as did Kaydence Jacobs.