by Calli Newberry
With a 25-23 victory in the first set over Croswell-Lexington on Thursday evening, the North Branch volleyball team had to refocus in order to maintain their three-season undefeated streak in the BWAC.
“I thought they played very well, I give Ryan [Wilson] a lot of credit,” North Branch head coach Jim Fish said of the Pioneers. “Sometimes teams will [think], ‘Oh no, it’s North Branch, the No. 6 team in the state,’ but they weren’t intimidated at all. They easily could’ve won that first set.”
As the No. 2 team in the conference with a 9-7 overall record, (4-2 BWAC), Cros-Lex continued to battle throughout the remainder of the match. The Pioneers held several tied points and a few leads throughout the last two sets, but the Broncos powered past for two more wins, 25-14 and 25-16.
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“We’ve got a lot of things to clean up, but our effort was good,” Fish said. “We just were off a little bit. Here and there a few balls were dropped and we missed three of our first seven serves. Just a lot of little things we don’t normally do.”
North Branch is currently ranked No. 6 in Division II, with a 16-3 overall record, 6-0 in the conference. Fish also said the team has yet to lose a conference set.
“I told them the other day, ‘We’re now in our fourth year and we’ve never lost a match in this conference, ever. What do you want to be known for? Do you want to be the first team to do that? If that’s the case, don’t work hard. But if you want to keep that going, you determine your legacy,’” Fish said. “We haven’t lost a set yet in the conference, we’ve swept them all. And so that’s one of their goals, not just to win all the games, but to not lose a set either.”
So far the Broncos are on track to do just that. They have eight more regular-season conference games to go before starting the District tournament in November, and a key to make a run deep into the playoffs will be their continued hard work and commitment to the team, and each other, according to sophomore outside hitter Alana Deshetsky.
“We came into the game really focused, but sometimes we get to the point where our effort’s always amazing, but the scrappiness of it can cost us a couple points,” she said. “In the second game we brought it in as a team and said ‘Hey, this is what we can do better, this is what I can do better, and bring that all together.’ I think that’s what made the difference in the next two games.”
Despite being a sophomore and having an incredibly young team, Deshetsky said age doesn’t matter to her teammates.
“On our team we look at a senior the same as a sophomore. We’re a team, we’re even. It’s equal,” she said. “We bring it together and talk as a team, but we don’t talk about age or position. You could be a bench player and still have the most input and that’s what is so special about our team.”
Deshetsky led her team with nine kills, seven digs, and an ace with great accuracy in Thursday’s matchup.
“She hit 500 tonight, which if an outside hitter hits 300 it’s really good, and she hit 500,” Fish said, “so she did very well.”
Junior middle hitter Natasha Bickel added 11 kills and three blocks, sophomore right side hitter Clara Gyomory chipped in with eight kills, senior defensive specialist Gracie Hide had three aces and five digs, and sophomore setter Adrienne Greschaw had 35 assists and four digs.
The two teams will take a break from conference play this weekend and compete in two different tournaments. Cros-Lex is heading to Reese, and North Branch will travel to Farmington Hills for the Mercy Power Series. Both events will be on Saturday, Sept. 18.