Lakers start slow, finish strong vs. Baldwin

Bear Lake senior Alexis Juarez (24) sends the ball over the net during the Lakers’ 4-set win over Baldwin on Tuesday. Juarez led the team with 10 points, six aces, 11 attacks and five kills in the match. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake senior Alexis Juarez (24) sends the ball over the net during the Lakers’ 4-set win over Baldwin on Tuesday. Juarez led the team with 10 points, six aces, 11 attacks and five kills in the match. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

BEAR LAKE — Bear Lake volleyball overcame a slow start on Tuesday to win in four sets in its West Michigan D-League opener against Baldwin.

The Lakers dropped the first set, but won the last three to win its first match of the year, 14-25, 25-14, 25-19 and 25-20. 

“I think it was major for them to finally get that win under their belt,” Bear Lake coach Renee Mallison said. “It’s a league win, so we’re starting strong and realizing that we can do it. In that fourth set we came back and we took ownership of that.”

Unforced errors plagued Bear Lake in the first set with the Panthers leading most of the way through. Baldwin finished that set on a 10-4 run to win 25-14.

“After the first set, it was like ‘okay, now we’re ready.’ We can’t do that. We can’t give that first set away. That’s what warm up is for,” Mallison said.

The Lakers woke up after that, starting with the serving of Alexis Juarez, who opened the second set on a four-point serving streak to get the team going. A late four-point serving run from Emily Belinsky helped the team to pull away to win 25-14.

During the third set a seven-point serving streak from Olivia Hejl helped the team win 25-19, with a lot of help from the team not making the same unforced errors as earlier.

“I think they just realized that they can’t give up on themselves and that if they get in a hole, they can dig themselves out of it,” Mallison said. “It was the confidence. I hope they can take this confidence train and it run it out this season. They have the skills.”

Baldwin got off to a quick start in the fourth set where it built a 15-9 lead midway through the set. The Lakers managed to work back into the set and a pair of aces from Kaitlynn Omar gave them a 20-19 lead late. Down the stretch Hejl scored two crucial points off sets near the net to guarantee the 25-20 win.

“I’ve been talking to her about how she runs the floor,” Mallison said of Hejl. “If you see that hole, expose it for all your worth. Those two were beautiful. That’s what we need as a setter.”

Juarez led the team with 10 points, six aces, 11 attacks and five kills, Hejl had eight points, six aces, three attacks, three kills and 20 assists, Emily Belinsky had eight points four aces and eight digs, Gabi Pargeon had seven points, 3 aces and five digs, Omar five points, four aces, nine attacks and six kills and Daisy Evans had six points and three aces.

The junior varsity team won in three sets, 23-25, 25-18 and 15-5.

The Lakers will be back on Thursday at home against Northport at 6 p.m. There will be no junior varsity game that evening.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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