Cards taste victory in district opener

Big Rapids volleyball team wins district opener over Harrison, 3-0

BIG RAPIDS — With the home-court advantage on its side, the Big Rapids volleyball team took down Harrison 3-0 in the first round of the Class B District 61 tournament on Monday to move on to the semifinals.

SURVIVE AND ADVANCE: Big Rapids' Karissa Jones (right) goes up for the kill during Monday's predistrict contest against Harrison. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

SURVIVE AND ADVANCE: Big Rapids’ Karissa Jones (right) goes up for the kill during Monday’s predistrict contest against Harrison. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

The Cardinals (22-24-2) won in sets of 25-11, 25-7 and 25-17 to set up a semifinal matchup against Central State Activities Association (CSAA) foe Reed City on Wednesday at Big Rapids High School.

“Coming out senior year and winning the first round of districts is pretty nice,” Big Rapids senior Emily Schlaupitz said. “It’s going to be a tough game against (Reed City), but I think if we all pull together and work as a team, we can do it.”

Cardinals coach Chris Jensen said after already facing the Coyotes four times this year, both in CSAA and non-conference play, the Cardinals are looking forward to a tough matchup with a familiar foe.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” he said. “We’ve played (Reed City) a little tougher every time we’ve gotten on the floor with them. We’re really looking forward to it. (Reed City coach Don Patterson) always has a well-coached team.”

To reach the semifinals, the Cardinals took care of business against Harrison with three strong sets.

Big Rapids raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set with Lauren Maginnis serving up five-straight service points for the Cardinals before Harrison tightened the gap to 13-11 later in the set. The Cardinals put the game out of reach with a 12-0 scoring run with Hannah Dadles serving for 12-straight service points.

The Cardinals carried the momentum from the first set into the second as Big Rapids built up a 9-7 lead and stretched its lead to 18-7 with nine-straight service points from Emily Fisk before the Cardinals went on a 7-2 scoring run to secure the 25-9 set victory.

Things weren’t looking promising for the Cardinals early in the third set as they fell behind 1-8, but the Cardinals were able to eventually knot the score at 11-11 before going on a 14-6 scoring run to put Harrison away with the 3-0 victory.

Jensen said the Cardinals were able to move on to the semifinals due to their strong serving performances on Monday.

“That’s the foundation of our season,” he said. “We were going to try to serve tough and pass tough and we did a little bit of that (Monday). The serving, especially with Hannah, was huge. Cara (Jensen) had a strong night. It was easy to get a little complacent later on there, so we went with the theory of just keeping the ball in to compete and it worked well.”

Dadles scored nine aces and five kills on the night while Cara Jensen had four aces, Madeline White recorded eight kills, Karissa Jones had five kills and Maginnis dished out 22 assists.

In a game where Jensen was able to work in most of his bench, he said it rewarding to be able to get everyone out on the floor at home during the postseason.

“I don’t know the last time Big Rapids volleyball got a district win, so to get every player involved is very rewarding,” he said. “They all work hard and they’re very positive ladies and they support each other so well on the bench. It’s obviously a great feeling to get everyone involved in the win.”

Wednesday’s semifinal match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. after the conclusion of the 5 p.m. semifinal between Chippewa Hills and Clare.

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