BUCHANAN – Buchanan made the home crowd proud Wednesday in Division 2 district semifinal play.
The Bucks swept the Shamrocks 25-15, 25-19, 25-22 to advance to the district championship game.
“My girls have played so hard this week getting ready for this tournament and they really stayed consistent,” Buchanan coach Shelly Bender said. “One of our goals this year was to stay consistent and finish games and we did that tonight.”
Leading 8-6 in set one, the Bucks finished the set on a 17-9 run to win the first game. With set two tied at 8-8, Buchanan used a 15-6 run to pull away from the Shamrocks, with a Faith Carson kill eventually clinching the set.
The Shamrocks used a strong start in set three to go up 5-1 before the Bucks went on a 5-1 run of their own to tie the set at 6-6. The set was a back-and-forth affair, with Buchanan pulling away late thanks to Josie West.
With the Bucks nursing a 24-22 lead, the freshman outside hitter fired the set-winning kill to clinch the sweep. She had a team-high 12 kills.
“Josie has been pretty dominant outside for us all year,” Bender said. “She was a little nervous tonight but she can really put the ball down when we need a big point.”
Middle hitter Faith Carson was a force in the center of the net for the Bucks. The freshman tallied three blocks and changed Buchanan’s game plan every time she stepped on the court.
“She is a big block presence,” Bender said. “People won’t hit out of the middle because they don’t want to be blocked. It pushes the ball to one area and we can play better defense.”
Berrien Springs head coach Ariel Lockett was proud of her team’s resiliency. Junior libero Jessy Silva tallied 22 assists and sophomore outside hitter Olivia Elliot led the team with eight kills, while senior middle hitter Zoe Dortch had a game-high six blocks.
“They came fought for every point that last game and didn’t want to give up. Jessy came out of her shell this year and I’m excited to see what she does next year. Olivia was our No. 1 hitter all year. We’re looking forward to seeing what another year of development will do for her.”
The Bucks move on to host Edwardsburg at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Eddies swept Niles 25-18, 25-13, 25-16 on Wednesday.
“(Edwardsburg) is a tough team and have been good all year,” Bender said. “We’re gonna have to play our game and be consistent. They have some big hitters but we have some big blockers so I’m hoping our blocking can come through and that our defense can pick that up.”
The Vikings were never able to take control of the offensive runs necessary to beat the Eddies. Nikki Nate had four kills and four digs and Bianca Pickens led the Vikings with 10 digs.
Niles ends the season with a 25-22-5 record.
“I was proud of their heart,” Niles coach Jenny Nate said. “They never gave up on the match or each other, and that is exactly how I wanted them to play despite the outcome. We love, appreciate, and will miss our seniors; this entire team’s work ethic, dedication, and drive to win was amazing the entire season, and it was my honor to be their coach. I loved watching them play.”
Buchanan d. Berrien Springs 25-15, 25-19, 25-22
Buchanan – Josie West 12 kills; Faith Carson 8 kills, 3 blocks; Katie Schau 4 kills, 4 digs, 2 aces; Kylie Boller 3 kills; Hailey Jonazke 4 digs; Kaylin Rogers 2 aces; Claire Shelton 28 assists.
Berrien Springs – Kylee Smith 1 kill, 4 blocks, 3 digs; Zoe Dortch 3 kills, 6 blocks, 2 digs; Emily Knight 1 dig, 1 assist; Jack Alsbro 1 ace, 1 block, 6 digs, 17 assists; Jessy Silva 22 assists; Maggie Griffiths 2 kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks, 5 digs; Gabby Cuthbert 4 kills, 1 ace, 5 blocks; Ellie Griffiths 1 block; Olivia Elliot 8 kills, 1 ace, 3 digs.
Edwardsburg d. Niles 25-18, 25-13, 25-16
Niles – Nikki Nate 4 kills, 1 block, 4 digs; Jillian Bruckner 4 kills; Amara Palmer 3 kills, 2 digs; Taylor Bailey 2 kills, 2 blocks, 4 digs; Marika Ruppart 2 kills; Zoie Appleberry 2 kills, 3 digs; Grace Florkowski 1 kill, 4 digs, 7 assists; Bianca Pickens 10 digs; Emma Beckman 4 digs, 4 assists; Cadence Knight 9 digs.
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