Bombers’ serving, defense shine in GRC victory
Strong serving and an agile defense propelled the Braham volleyball squad to a 25-12, 25-17, 25-17 sweep of visiting Isle during a Homecoming Thursday match Sept. 29.
The win has the Bombers at 2-0 in the Great River Conference. This year, the GRC is only counting one match per foe for the final standings, so the Bombers get sort of a “do-over” for their 2-2 record in the first four matches against Hinckley, Rush City, East Central and Pine City– teams Braham will close the regular season with later this month.
In Game 1 against Isle, Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow served in eight straight points, aided by a couple strong kills from Kayla Nickles at the net, for a quick win. Game 2 began with Kayla White serving in six straight points while pounding three aces. Nickles and Sara Tomlinson later added serving aces as the Bombers doubled-up the Huskies at 16-8. Youngster Carley Lynch and Becca Dahlman also delivered service aces after Isle pulled to within 18-15.
“I would say that we are serving a lot in our practices, and we’re definitely getting better at it. That’s one thing that our coach said will win us games if all our serves go in,” said White. “We are definitely coming together as a team. I think if we keep working the way we did tonight, we’re going to go pretty far.”
Game 3 was a micro-study of the serving differences between the opponents. Braham continued to put the ball into play, but the Huskies hurt their chances by giving away five points off missed serves. That was too bad since the Isle girls stepped up their play in other phases, staying within 16-14 two-thirds the way through the game.
With the Huskies close, Braham’s defense fought harder as White, Brianna Stickles and Sorenson-Giffrow all made great digs which kept alive points. Setters Briana Richmond and Lynch then closed out the evening with perfect assists as Sorenson-Giffrow and Dahlman pounded down the final two kills for the victory.
“I would say tonight was probably the first time the girls truly played the sport of volleyball. We’ve had some good volleyball matches so far, but they were reading the defense well,” analyzed Bomber Coach Britne Engelking. “They were jumping in for each other rather than waiting for someone to make a play, which is so hard to do with new teams– getting them comfortable with each other.
“Becca Dahlman was able to attack and kill anything that was put in front of her. Same with Kelsey Sorenson-Giffrow– all of our hitters were swinging hard. And our scrappy defense allowed us to play the offense that we’ve been trying to play.”
Leading in kills were Sorenson-Giffrow and Nickles with 8 apiece, Dahlman with 7, and Amanda Sybrant with 4. Richmond and Lynch combined for 28 assists. Dahlman (10), Sorenson-Giffrow (10) and Stickels (9) led in digs against the Huskies.
The Bombers have a key a GRC road match at Onamia this Thursday, then they host their annual Bomber Invite on Saturday.
“We changed our practice style a little bit the past week, and it’s just been a lot more intense– a lot more talk and exerting a lot more energy. We don’t have weak teams really in this conference. Tonight, Isle was down 0-2 in games and they still came out with nice digs and hard hits,” said Coach Engleking. “That’s the kind of team we’re going to be playing all season. Nothing’s going to come easy, and we need to be ready to work.”
• On Oct. 4, the Bombers kept after it with a sweep of host Ogilvie in GRC action: 25-14, 25-20, 25-18.
Rush City 4-0, 13-2; East Central 3-0, 13-2; Braham 3-0, 11-5; Onamia 2-2, 11-9; Pine City 1-1, 4-8; Isle 1-2, 3-10; Aitkin 1-3, 2-13; Ogilvie 1-3, 5-8; Hinckley-Fin. 0-5, 1-11. Section 5A leaders: East Central 13-2; Rush City 13-2 ; Upsala 12-2; Belgrade-BE 12-3; Sebeka 12-4.