Bomber Volleyball clinches GRC championship

Braham volleyball stepped up big time with two significant two-point victories over four days to wrap up its second straight Great River Conference championship. At home Oct. 11, the  Bombers rallied on Aitkin in an electric match: 21-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-19, 16-14.

“In 10 years of coaching, I have never experienced a comeback of this nature with this much on the line,” exclaimed Bomber Coach Britne Engelking. “I am proud of every member of the team– from our C-squad, JV and Varsity reserves to our ‘core’ players. Along with that, I am thankful for every single fan we had on Thursday. They helped keep this team in the match. I also attribute the amount of time the girls put into our conditioning/strength training which helped fight the fatigue that started to show against this very tough Aitkin team.”

Coach Engelking highlighted Alyssa Thom’s seven aces at pivotal times, particularly in the Game 3 win. Setter Carley Lynch had a huge night with 39 assists, Bella Williams’ clutch 10 digs and 14 big kills from Kayla Nickles were more keys to the win over the Gobblers.

The Bombers needed one more victory to clinch the title, and that came Monday night, Oct. 15, at Onamia where they prevailed: 13-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21.

“Having minimal practice time to prepare for the conference title match was unfortunate; however, it created an interesting dynamic to the season that both (Onamia coach) Linda, I and our players had to face. We knew that this match was the biggest one yet of the season and would determine if Onamia or Braham would be conference champs. The girls played nervously, and they were all a little off in the first set. They were able to focus and regain their confidence in each other and themselves.”

• On Oct. 16, a tired Braham squad defeated Pine City 25-19, 25-15, 25-13 to finish the GRC schedule at a perfect 12-0. Nickles had another huge all-around night with 42 digs, 14 kills and seven aces.

Bombers vs. Aitkin: Lynch– 23 digs, 39 assists, 3 aces; Nickles– 29 digs, 14 kills, 3 aces; Tomlinson– 19 digs, 9 kills, 5 aces; Braund– 14 digs, 5 kills; Thom– 7 aces, 2 kills; Bendickson– 20 digs, 11 kills; Williams– 10 digs.

Bombers vs. Onamia: Lynch– 15 digs, 31 assists; Nickles– 42 digs, 14 kills, 3 aces; Tomlinson– 17 digs, 7 kills; Braund– 10 digs, 4 kills; Thom– 4 aces, 4 kills; Bendickson– 23 digs, 7 kills, 3 aces.

Bombers vs. Onamia: Lynch– 24 assists, 4 kills; Nickles– 42 digs, 14 kills, 7 aces; Tomlinson– 10 digs, 10 kills, 3 aces; Braund– 12 digs, 6 kills; Thom– 3 aces, 3 kills; Bendickson– 23 digs, 7 kills.

GRC Volleyball: Braham 12-0, 16-4; Onamia 9-2, 15-6; Aitkin 9-2, 13-7; Rush City 7-4, 11-11; Isle 5-6, 7-15; East Central 3-8, 7-10; Hinckley-Fin. 3-8, 5-16; Pine City 2-10, 3-18; Ogilvie 0-10, 2-20

Section 5A QRF leaders: Belgrade-Brooten 21-7, Nevis 18-6, Upsala 18-5, Eden Valley-Watkins 14-8, Braham 16-4, Sebeka 15-7, Osakis 18-7, Pine River-Backus 13-5, Onamia 15-6.