Mason pulls ahead of Charlotte in CAAC Gold volleyball race

Mason pulls ahead of Charlotte in CAAC Gold volleyball race

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Mason pulls ahead of Charlotte in CAAC Gold volleyball race

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Two sets were tied 21-21, and Mason led just 21-20 in the other.

But the Bulldogs got key kills to pull out each set and avenged an earlier loss at Charlotte with a 25-22, 25-21, 25-23 victory on Tuesday.

Mason (26-10, 9-1) had been tied with the Orioles (23-9-1, 9-2), but moved into first place alone in the CAAC Gold. The Bulldogs host Eaton Rapids, which handed Charlotte its other league loss, on Thursday.

“We have to continue winning to win it outright,” Mason coach Elisa Zwick said.

The Orioles need the Greyhounds to bounce back from a 3-1 loss at Jackson Lumen Christi on Tuesday with a win at Mason if they hope to share the league title with the Bulldogs.

“The first match, we won the first two sets, they won the second two sets, and we won the fifth set,” Charlotte coach Dennis Richardson said. “So I thought history might repeat itself, but we had some injuries along the way. Our lineup was a little bit different, and Mason took advantage of that.”

The Orioles were missing libero Cheyanne Schmidt, who is out with a sprained ankle.

“She placed her players in a good position to be successful,” Richardson said of Zwick. “Our first line of defense that we’ve been depending on wasn’t as strong. We didn’t have as many block kills as we have in the past.”

Sophomore Willow Martin, who finished with 12 kills, made three kills among Mason’s last four points in the first set and another key kill that put the Bulldogs ahead for good at 23-22 in the third set.

Junior Taylor Delbridge, who led Mason with 13 kills, got the key kill that put the Bulldogs ahead to stay at 22-21 in the second set.

“We passed the ball very well today, and we serve-received well,” Zwick said. “The girls placed the ball very smart. They listened to what we were saying, and where we needed to place the ball.”

Zwick praised Delbridge and a few others.

“Senior Rachel Kinch played really well on the right side with some key kills at certain times and big moments,” she said. “Willow played very smart. She’s a very powerful hitter, but she mixed her shots.

“Kaycee (junior Kaycee Richmond) in the middle did a really nice job mixing up the plays, placing the ball and protetcting the net very well.”

Zwick also gave credit to junior libero Rachel Cook and sophomore setter Erin McDermott, who finished with 31 assists.

“Our libero, she’s fantastic, and she did a really nice job in controlling the defense in the backcourt,” she said. “My setter runs a really good offense for us. She’s a really special kid and is a very hard worker as well.”

Richardson praised senior Maggie Goeman, senior setter Ashleigh Reinbold (23 assists) and junior Stephanie Zimmerman (10 digs).

“(Senior) Hannah Smith played really well,” he said. “She’s had an ankle injury and a toe injury. This is the first match where she played all the way around for us.

“But we never made a long sustainable run, and that’s a credit to the other team.”

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Mason pulls ahead of Charlotte in CAAC Gold volleyball race

Two sets were tied 21-21, and Mason led just 21-20 in the other.

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