Buchanan tops Niles for Division 2 District championship

Published 7:10 pm Sunday, November 6, 2022

EDWARDSBURG — Lakeland Conference champion Buchanan won the Division 2 District volleyball championship with a 3-1 win over Wolverine Conference co-champion Niles at Edwardsburg High School Saturday.

The Bucks, who reached the title match by defeating Wolverine Conference champion Edwardsburg 3-1 on Thursday, won the opening set to the Vikings, who cruised into the finals with 3-0 wins over Berrien Springs and Benton Harbor, 25-15.

Niles (26-18-6) rebounded to win the second set 26-24 to tie the match at 1-1. The Bucks (30-5) took over in the third set, winning 25-19 to take the league. Niles continued to battle, but fell 25-20 in the fourth and final set.

The win advanced Buchanan to the Division 2 Regional semifinals at Hudsonville Unity Christian High School to face another Wolverine Conference team in Plainwell at 7 p.m. Tuesday. In the first semifinal at 5 p.m. will pit No. 8-ranked Holland Christian against No. 5-ranked Grand Rapids South Christian.

“This final district match was a battle,” said Buchanan Coach Shelly Bossert. “My girls really fought for every point we got today. My team just never gave up. I am extremely proud of this group. They worked together as a team to win an intense game on Thursday and then they turned around and did it again today.”

Josie West continued her strong district tournament with 12 kills and seven digs, while Faith Carson had 10 kills and nine blocks. Sister Alyssa Carson added eight kills and four blocks. Chloe Aalfs finished the match with five kills, eight digs and two aces.

Laney Kehoe led the Bucks with 14 digs. Alyvia Hickok led the team with 35 assists.

First-year Niles Coach Samantha Zimmerman was pleased with her team’s effort throughout the season and in the postseason.

“It was sad to have our season end today, but I reminded my girls of how far we’ve come this year,” she said. “We started the match very slow, and I think that affected us throughout. We came back and played an amazing set 2, but then again, sets 3 and 4 were just slow for us, and it’s hard to win when our energy level isn’t at its best. Buchanan has some great hard hitters. Our blockers just couldn’t slow them down enough today. I thought we played a good match and I’m happy with how far we’ve come this season.”

All-Stater Jillian Bruckner turned in another solid performance for the Vikings in her final high school match with 18 kills, three blocks and three aces. Bree Lake added 13 kills and three blocks, while Tanaya Brown had six kills and Kendall Gerdes five.

Brynn Lake led Niles with 23 assists with Anna Johnson adding 13 assists. Amelia Florkowski led the Vikings with 13 digs. Kailyn Miller finished with 10 digs.