Sabers take down Falcons in three

Manistee Catholic Central’s Katie Pachesny (right) elevates for a spike during Thursday’s win against Pentwater. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The Sabers opened play in the West Michigan D League exactly how they wanted to.

With a win.

Manistee Catholic Central took care of Pentwater on Thursday in straight sets, 25-10, 25-22, 25-20.

“I told them I wanted to win,” said MCC first-year coach Lauren Welsh. “It’s a conference game and we needed to win at home too.”

The Sabers swept the Falcons without senior co-captain Jordan Barnett, who is out with a knee injury she suffered in Tuesday’s loss to Northport. That sapped MCC of some height up front and led to more time for freshman Meghan Miller.

“I played Meghan a little bit more in place of Jordan today,” Welsh said. “It’s more height up front. Meghan and Jordan have been working together in practice and I really wanted her to learn from Jordan, as a senior, her approach and how to really work on her kills.”

With the win, MCC improved to 2-1 in dual matches this season and showed an improvement in a few areas following Tuesday’s loss.

“We talked a little bit more than Tuesday,” Welsh said. “There was a lot more communication on the floor — we went over that a lot in practice. A big thing Tuesday was lack of coverage, so I really hammered that into them yesterday at practice.”

MCC established a cushion in the middle of the first game with a pair of three-point service runs from Alysha Heck and Miller. Holding an 18-10 lead, junior Amber Robke closed out the Falcons with seven straight aces. Robke also finished with four assists.

“Amber has a great serve,” Welsh said. “She can get it over the net and it’s a hard serve to return.”

Neither team established a real presence at the net Thursday, which placed a premium on serving.

“That first game we had like four service errors,” Welsh said. “That’s four automatic points to them and we can’t have that.”

However, MCC followed that with a number of early service errors in the second set to dig a hole. Pentwater led 15-10 before Kaytlin Heck went on a four-point run with a pair of aces. She finished with three for the match to go with four kills.

“Kaytlin’s got a great serve too,” Welsh said. “You wouldn’t think she’s a freshman when she’s out there. She can really return the ball too.”

Trailing by one, Katie Pachesny had a trio of aces in a four-point run to put the Sabers ahead 19-17. The senior finished with four aces and two kills while junior Alysha Heck had four aces, two assists and six tips.

Miller got the ball with the score knotted at 22 and served up three straight points for the win.

Much like the second game, the Sabers trailed most of the third and Miller got the ball with the score tied at 20 and didn’t give it back, serving up five straight points for the win, despite a pair of Pentwater timeouts sandwiched in the run.

“It’s nice having Meghan toward the end of the service rotation,” Welsh said. “She came through really well.”

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from this match.

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