Charlevoix picks up steam with tri-match wins over Leland, TC Christian

CHARLEVOIX – It’s been a bit of a strange season for the Charlevoix volleyball team.

A hot start to the year met an extended quarantine period in the mid-season, which ultimately meant that the Rayders had to build up momentum on the pitch again.

Charlevoix's Grace Lentz takes a hitting lane against a Leland player for a big block in the opening set.

Fortunately for the Charlevoix players, coaches and fans, they start exactly that at the right time, with the district game just a week in advance.

To start the postseason with some of that momentum – where they’ll try to repeat themselves as district champions – the Rayders strategically fought a challenging tri-match on Wednesday and a strong Leland team and Division 4 No. 5 in Traverse City welcomes Christian, who with Emma Mirabelli is one of the top players in the state.

The Rayders themselves have held their 10th place in Division 3 for the past four weeks, opening the night with a win over Leland that resulted in a tie-break set.

Charlevoix then beat TC Christian in an impressive 25-13 set, then again in a 25-22 set to complete the sweep of the night.

Charlevoix opened with Leland, taking the win behind a 25-23 win in the first set, which was ended after a big kill by Grace Lentz.

Claire Scholten of Charlevoix prepares the ball for a teammate against Leland.

For Charlevoix coach Audra Randall, the first set win came with the fact that her team worked spontaneously and independently made changes while she relied on her defensive work.

“I think our passing game was one of our strengths that gave us these opportunities on the net (for Lentz),” said Randall. “Even tonight they fixed bugs when (Leland) was on Grace. The girls are thoughtful and think and make decisions on their own. They try to solve problems on their own, which is a big deal for a trainer. It’s a tough senior team and everyone participated. “

The second set then left the Rayders rolling by a 15-8 lead and later a 19-11 lead before the Comets took time out to discuss matters.

That did Leland well when they then did a 9-1 run to get a 21-20 set. Leland later took the lead at 23:21, but the Rayders didn’t want to give up from then on.

The two traded points on the course, with Charlevoix getting a big ace from Kylee Rice in a 25-24 set, but a tip in a hole brought the Comets straight back to tie it at 25-25.

Lentz then added a monster kill to make it 26-25, though Leland’s determination to make the comeback proved too strong in the end as the Comets won a 28-26 match.

Charlevoix's Kylee Rice (right) is served while teammate Lauren Shepard (left) comes into position.

Now in the tie-break, Leland opened with a 6: 4 lead and brought Charlevoix a break.

The Rayders then settled behind an ace from Lentz, then a kill from Taylor Petrosky to make it 11-10 Charlevoix. The Comets then made mistakes when successive hits on the track led to a 15:11 win for Charlevoix.

Again, the Rayders returned to defense-based communication, which Randall knows begins with the team’s libero, Patria Muriel.

“Everyone’s defense has really improved in the last two years because Patria was a role model at libero,” said Randall. “She’s a fun girl and we love to have her on the pitch with her energy when she’s confident outside and making her moves.”

Patria Muriel of Charlevoix prepares to serve against Leland.

After TC beat Christian Leland with wins of 25:19 and 15:11 between a 25:18 Leland win, the Rayders then went about the business to end the night.

Claire Scholten finished with 37 assists, four aces, four kills and 12 digs, Lentz had 23 kills, two blocks and 12 digs, Petrosky had 13 kills and two blocks, and Muriel had 32 digs and three aces.

Also for the Rayders, Camryn Turkelson scored 18 out of 19 on serve and had seven digs, Anna Haf had three kills and 11 digs, and Addison Boop had five kills.

Charlevoix (05/29/3) will next go to the annual Carrie Bricker-Hauger Memorial Invite in Boyne City this Saturday, October 30th, before heading to the East Jordan District Games on Wednesday, November 3rd.

The Rayders will open with hosts East Jordan, a team they have seen several times this season that Randall knows will be set on fire on their home pitch.

Charlevoix's Anna Haf stands up for a kill during the opening set against Leland.

To repeat, the Rayders can drop a big goal after narrowly missing out on the big one in the season.

“We have a lot of big goals for ourselves this year,” added Randall. “We couldn’t repeat a conference championship, but I thought we played very well against all of our opponents. Our two losses were both five-set games. It really shows that we are working to the end.

“We definitely think that we are contenders for the (district) final. Everyone’s trying to win, it’s in the home ground of (East Jordan) so you know they’re ready and we can’t mess around at all. “

The lower part of the bracket includes Johannesburg-Lewiston, St. Ignace and Harbor Springs, with the Cardinals being the other favorites to make it to the finals on Thursday November 4th.

If they manage to get past the Red Devils, Randall believes a match against JL would be a good challenge.

“There are some good things going on at JoBurg,” she said. “They have a big, strong middle and whenever we’ve played JoBurg in the past it’s always been a great game.”

Contact sports editor Drew Kochanny at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter, @DrewKochanny and Instagram, @drewkochanny

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