Carving out victory: Negaunee Miners volleyball team takes down Gwinn in 4 sets

Gwinn's Makayla Olson, front left, gets a solo block on Negaunee's Ashley Bell, top right, late in the third set of their high school volleyball match held at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee on Thursday. Assisting on the Modeltowners block is Melanie Beauchamp, partially hidden behind Olson. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

NEGAUNEE — The Negaunee High School volleyball team got all it could handle against visiting Gwinn on Thursday evening but was were able to pull out a four-set home win, 25-19, 25-20, 12-25, 25-14.

The Miners have played some solid volleyball as of late, according to head coach Krista Squiers, and she hopes her team can put it all together with the season in full swing.

Squiers has seen her team grow, with some of that happening on Thursday.

“We’ve been talking about that we have all of the pieces, we just have to put it together,” Squiers said. “We just have to play our game, and I think we worry too much about the outcome instead of all of the hard work that we put in and trusting the process.

“The games that we’re putting together are when we’re trusting each other and trusting the process.”

Gwinn's Grace Anderson, center, makes a set in the third set against Negaunee as teammates Hannah Eagle, left, and Shaylyn Spencer look on during their high school volleyball match held at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Thursday’s first set started off close in a 4-4 tie, but the Miners pulled away for an 8-4 lead behind the serving of Marisa Hird.

Gwinn wouldn’t go away easily, as a kill by Melanie Beauchamp started the comeback to bring her team within a point. It was even at 12-12 until Kylie Heggaton connected on two straight aces to give the momentum back to the Miners.

Negaunee pushed the lead to four after kills by Rachel Niskanen and Eliana Juchemich, prompting a Gwinn timeout. The Negaunee offense shone down the stretch to close out the set, with three straight kills by Heggaton, Martha Rutherford and Ashley Bell shutting the door.

The teams again played evenly to begin the second set. Bell connected on a kill to finally give the Miners an edge. It sparked a Negaunee run as Rutherford’s serving helped build a 13-7 advantage. The Modeltowners battled back once more to cut the deficit to 13-11 after a kill by Shaylyn Spencer and a few Negaunee miscues.

Bell stopped the bleeding with another one of her team-high 10 kills at a much-needed point. After the kill, Bell took over serving and led the Miners on another run to an 18-12 advantage. Beauchamp counted for Gwinn with a block and kill for a point, followed by an ace and another hard serve. In a back-and-forth of good individual efforts, it was Juchemich’s turn to shine in front of the net with a couple of kills.

Gwinn's Lena Pleaugh sets the ball in the third set against Negaunee as teammate Samantha Gregg looks on during their high school volleyball match held at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee on Thursday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Niskanen came into serve, drilling an ace and edged NHS closer to the finish line. Gwinn scored three straight points to get within 23-19, but yet another kill from Bell not only put her team one point away from claiming the set, but also stalled Gwinn’s momentum. A miscommunication from the Modeltowners ended the set.

With their backs against the wall in the third set, GHS responded in a big way. After taking an early 9-7 lead, Gwinn got a huge momentum swing with three consecutive aces by Beauchamp. Taking advantage of some Negaunee miscommunication, the Modeltowners made them pay with offense of their own on a big run to take a 22-11 lead. Makayla Olson had a dominant set for Gwinn with multiple kills and blocking in front of the net to combat Negaunee’s impressive frontline of their own right.

“They really had to dig deep, they had to start getting low and getting that pass up and making plays happen,” Gwinn interim coach Maria Slater said of her team. “It’s great to see a nice volley back-and-forth, but at some point, you have to put it down. That’s what my girls did, and they were phenomenal with their serves, too.”

Negaunee had a rough third set with some miscommunication and unforced errors, but the Miners bounced back in the fourth set to finish off the match convincingly. After trailing 6-4 early, Bell led a rally with multiple kills to give NHS a 13-8 lead.

Gwinn was right back within striking distance after a kill by Pleaugh made it 13-11, but Negaunee went on another huge run to take a 21-13 lead. Hird served down the stretch for the Miners, and she closed out the visitors with four aces.

“It’s good as a coach to see that resiliency that they just pick it up and keep going,” Squiers said. “That resiliency to not give up, not quit, and come back out and say, ‘OK, this next one’s ours.’ That’s huge for this team that they have that within themselves.”

Bell led the way for Negaunee with 10 kills, while Juchemich had seven and Heggaton five. Hird finished with 17 digs to lead the Miners, while Niskanen also had double digits with 10, Heggaton eight, with Juchemich and Madison Gendron each six.

Hird and Niskanen each had six aces to lead Negaunee’s strong serving game, and Niskanen also added 34 assists in her setter role.

Gwinn next heads to the Redette Rumble today, while Negaunee hits the road playing at Hancock Tuesday.

Travis Nelson can be reached by email at tnelson@miningjournal.net.


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