BATTLE CREEK – Bronson will seek its first Class C volleyball title since 2009 after advancing to today’s championship match at Kellogg Arena following a solid performance against Traverse City St. Francis in a 25-18, 25-27, 25-15, 25-23 semifinal victory Friday.
A team of hard-working players, the Vikings (56-10-3) seemed to cover every inch of the court in frustrating the Gladiators.
The game plan seemed simple: run all over the court and stay away from St. Francis’ Juliana Phillips (12 kills), a 6-foot-4 terror at the net.
“We watched film on them and realized they’re big hitters,” said junior Jill Pyles. “We knew where she (Phillips) was and we tried to be prepared. We’re all about effort and making sure the ball doesn’t hit the floor.
“We see that 2009 banner and team picture every day we go into the gym so we’d like to hang another one.”
Bronson didn’t experience much pressure in the first game and kept the momentum going in the second game by scoring five of the first six points to keep the Gladiators (51-7-3) on their heels.
St. Francis rallied by scoring 12 of the next eight 18 points to take a 13-11 lead. Phillips started making her presence felt along the front line and the Gladiators took advantage of some errors at the net and service line by Bronson.
Tied at 25, St. Francis evened the match at 1-1 as Bronson hit two shots into the net.
Bronson recharged its battery in the third game, jumping out to a 9-4 lead, forcing St. Francis to call a timeout. Bronson’s athleticism was on full display as the Vikings raced around the court, seemingly hunting down every shot the Gladiators took and dominating play.
St. Francis appeared in a great position to tie the match up 20-18 in the fourth game, but the Vikings scored the next four points.
“I thought they (St. Francis) played a great game,” said Bronson coach Jean LaClair. “I thought we kept fighting. We were struggling to get into our offense a little bit. We just kept running down balls that they were hitting back at us.
“We tried to stay away from her (Phillips) a little bit, but we’ve got to run the offense that we run. I felt that my middles are pretty good. We’re usually a good serving team. We had to keep them out of their offense, because they’re very much like us; a good offensive team.”
Senior Kirin Cekander led Bronson with 15 kills, and Pyles added nine.
“I don’t think Jill crunched balls or served like she usually does, but she kept us in the game,” LaClair said.
She’ll get another chance today.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.