GRC leaders

Bombers sweep matches from Jaguars, Tigers & Eagles– oh, my!: Braham volleyball pulled off the season sweep of Rush City in a huge Great River match Sept. 17, taking the Tigers in three: 25-23, 25-21, 25-23.

Wicked serving from 2012 Homecoming Queen Alyssa Thom (5 aces, above) and powerful spikes from senior co-captain Sara Tomlinson (10 kills, below) were huge weapons in the Bombers’ 3-0 win over rival Rush City Sept. 17. Photos by Greg Hunt

Braham added a 25-19, 25-23, 25-13 sweep of East Central Sept. 18 to improve to 5-0 in the GRC, holding on to a one-game lead over Onamia.

Big serves got the Bombers going in Game 1 against the Tigers as Alyssa Thom blasted two early aces for a 6-3 lead. Angela Bendickson followed with two aces in a good run, then Kayla Nickles served Braham out to an 18-10 edge, adding one more ace. The Tigers rallied to knot the score  at 23-23, but their two mistakes gave Braham the final points needed.

Rush City led Game 2 13-10, but Bendickson’s next serve run later pushed Braham ahead 21-17. Carly Lynch lofted a perfect set for a Thom kill which made it 24-21.

Thom’s serving had Braham out early 8-2 in Game 3, but again the Tigers rallied to build a 12-10 lead. That’s when Sara Tomlinson took over at the net, racking up six kills as Braham jumped ahead 21-16. Dani Braund bounced a spike off a Tigers’ noggin, then Lynch put away the match with two perfectly-placed tips.

“We came into this so confident, knowing that we wanted to get this match in three games. We go into it thinking every ball is your ball; every ball is going to hit the floor on their side,” said senior co-captain Sara Tomlinson. “Sweeping the Tigers was a long time coming. This was great– especially being a senior this year.”

“We had a couple players not feeling their best with illnesses. The girls showed they could play through anything– do whatever it takes to get the ball. We were on our court, and the girls finished well tonight with heart and passion,” said Bomber Coach Britne Engelking. “Rush City dug everything, and our girls had to keep digging and find the holes for the win.”

Bombers 3, Rush City 2

Carley Lynch- 19 assists, 15 digs 4 kills; Sarah Tomlinson- 10 kills, 14 digs; Angela Bendickson- 8 aces, 9 digs, 5 kills; Kayla Nickles- 20 digs, 5 kills; Alyssa Thom- 5 aces 5 digs, 3 kills; Dani Braund- 3 kills, 14 digs, 2 aces; Bella Williams- 8 digs.

• Sept. 13 at Hinckley, Braham beat the Jaguars 25-6, 25-18, 25-14 with a strong overall effort on offense. Leading in kills were Tomlinson (9), Nickles (7), Bendickson (6), Lynch (6) and Thom (4). Thom had six more aces from the line.

Kayla Nickles delivered 5 kills against Rush City (pictured) and had 10 kills in the Sept. 13 sweep at Hinckley.

On Tuesday against the Eagles, Thom rattled off eight more aces, and Nickles pounded 10 kills to go with 19 digs.

“We just need to stay confident, but at the same time be aware that there’s other good teams out there,” said Tomlinson on her team’s approach to the next run of GRC matches which includes taking on Pine City Sept. 20 in another Homecoming week highlight.

GRC Volleyball: Braham 5-0, 9-1; Onamia 4-0, 9-4; Rush City 4-2, 6-6; Aitkin 3-1, 6-5; Hinckley-Fin. 2-2, 4-5; East Central 1-3, 4-5; Isle 1-3, 1-8; Ogilvie 0-5, 1-10; Pine City 0-4, 0-9