Balanced Bronson sweeps Monroe St. Mary in Class C final
Battle Creek – Bronson tossed aside a slow start Saturday afternoon in the Class C state volleyball title match to sweep defending champion Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 25-22, 25-21, 26-24 at Kellogg Arena.
It was Bronson's first championship since taking home the state title trophy in 2009.
MSMCC (37-9-1) jumped out to leads of 9-3 and 13-4 in Game 1, but couldn't put away the Vikings (57-10-3). The Kestrels failed to hold leads in Game 2 and 3, as well.
"We ran into a team that was well-disciplined, they passed and played good defense," MSMCC first-year coach Karen O'Brien said. "All the sets were close. It was different for us; we had leads. Maybe that was the difference. We had too many leads in each set. We just couldn't finish them. We could put them away."
Bronson 5-foot-7 senior outside hitter Kirin Cekander had team-highs in kills (11) and digs (15).
"I'm shaking right now, so thrilled and excited," said Cekander, who ended the match with a kill. "It just felt awesome because knowing it's my last game ever I just put it all on the court.
"We started out rough, at least I know I did, but I think we really brought it to them and played how we needed to play to win."
Junior middle hitter Jill Pyles had nine kills, sophomore outside hitter Kiana Mayer had eight kills, junior outside hitter Allison Sikorski had seven kills and seven digs, and senior setter Alexa Ratkowski had six kills and 34 assists for the Vikings.
"We knew it was going to be a great match because both teams are pretty good and both teams are pretty similar, meaning both teams have a lot of good hitters," said Bronson coach Jean LaClair. "I just felt we did a good job of staying in our offense other than the first 10 points of the game. I thought we neutralized their hitters."
While Ratkowski spread the wealth among Bronson's hitters, MSMCC had three players with double figures in kills, led by Miss Volleyball finalist in 6-0 senior outside hitter Skylar Iott with 15. Regan Hodgson and Nicole Pollzzie each had 10 kills.
"No. 16 (Iott) is great, she's a phenomenal player," LaClair said. "I think we both have a lot of hitters, well-rounded in number of hitters. I think we had a lot of hitters come out with some big kills so they couldn't key on just one kid. They had to honor everybody."
LaClair praised Cekander for recovering after early jitters.
"Kirin, we call her our Energizer Bunny," LaClair said. "She's the one who keeps us running. She struggled to start the game and I pulled her out and told her that she's our senior leader and I needed her to be out on the floor, keeping us composed. She was our best passer and she went out from that point on and really played a great game, back row and front row."