Bronson swept the Jonesville volleyball team on its home floor to wrap up another Class C district title Thursday, but the Comets showed glimpses of hope for the future and didn’t give up, even once the final outcome was seemingly decided.
The Vikings completely dominated the serve-receive aspect of the game as their offense seamlessly got set and made plays time and again, while the Comets struggled to handle their serves and consequently had very few high-percentage kill opportunities.
Bronson didn’t play their best game, making several mistakes in each set and the Comets were resilient and went on several small runs, but in the end it was the Vikings 25-10, 25-12, 25-16.
“I think the girls were pretty nervous and we didn’t call some of our play sets we have been working on in practice,” Jonesville head coach Debbie Proctor-Bigelow said. “But one thing they’ve really improved on is trying to win that first point of the match and we’ve done a good job of that lately. Sometimes it’s a mind-set, where if they can win that first point they can move on and make something happen in the match and they’ve worked on that and did a good job of it tonight.”
They took 1-0 leads twice Thursday, but they were the Comets only two leads of the night.
The constant blockade of Bronson’s Brooke Pyles and Katherine Carpenter was too much to compete with at the net and the Vikings had a way of finding which Comets were out of position and where there was the slightest openings on the court.
Nonetheless Proctor-Bigelow was trying to accentuate the positive, and just being in the district finals was something to be proud of.
“I think we had quite a few unforced errors, but I think through the course of the evening the girls played as a team, which is something that we’ve struggled with off and on this year,” she said. “But through this whole series with the districts we’ve been pulling together as a team and really supporting each other on and off the court.”
The Comets were led by Shaila Rossman who had five kills and four blocks and Amber Smith who totaled 11 digs, a block and a kill. Jenna Kast added six assists and eight digs, and Chelsea Taylor had six digs and 21 service receptions.
At times, Comet players like senior Amber Smith answered the call of leadership, trying to will her teammates to an upset of one of the state’s most consistent volleyball programs. But without being able to regularly set up its offense and lacking the power the Vikings showcased, there was plenty of frustration evident on the faces of Jonesville players.
It was an up-and-down season for the Comets first-year head coach who came over after more than a decade of being Hillsdale’s JV coach.
She said she truly believes the program has a bright future and despite all the pressure that the position entails she has learned that she has to trust what has got her this far.
“I think personally I need to follow my instincts more and use that more, instead of listening to other people as much,” she said. “I think the girls really picked it up and started buying into some things and you could see that they started taking some of the things we’ve been working on all season and actually incorporating it in to a game.”
Proctor-Bigelow also said she has learned what it takes to guide a group of varsity caliber athletes in the right direction on a daily basis.
“I’ve learned, well I think I already knew it, that it’s sometimes hard working with high school girls — sometimes what you can say on one day you can’t say maybe another day. But this group of girls, they’ve got big hearts and they do a good job and they’re willing to do anything a coach asks them to do,” she said. “And they learned to make a lot of adaptions through the season and I really can’t say anything negative at all about this team. Just a great group of kids with a lot of support from their parents.”