Cardinals capture host of volleyball awards
Four individual awards and one team achievement highlight Johannesburg-Lewiston's efforts from this past volleyball season.
Grace Kierczynski and Haylie Haase each earned recognition on the Academic All-State team. The award is given to seniors who carry a 3.7 minimum grade-point average. Kierczynski ended the fall with a 3.817 GPA, while Haase carried a 3.897.
The Cardinals were awarded Academic All-State as a team after finishing with a cumulative 3.68 GPA. To qualify for the honor, teams must finish with a minimum 3.3 GPA.
Ski Valley announces All-Conference volleyball team
GAYLORD — The Ski Valley Conference boasted five Otsego County players on its all-conference team released last week.
The league named Johannesburg-Lewiston junior Madison Showerman to its First Team, while senior Ali Johnson made Second Team and Sarah Korff was Honorable Mention.
Showerman led J-L with 275 kills and also totaled 191 digs and 46 1/2 digs. Johnson, despite missing games at the end of the year, finished with 164 kills and 165 digs, and Korff posted 623 assists, 310 digs and 70 aces.
Also making the All-Conference team, was St. Mary junior Bekah Myler (Second Team) and Jacquelyn Harbin (Honorable Mention.)
While Myler missed three games this season, she notched 117 kills 11 blocks and 47 digs. Harbin served 10 aces, had 20 blocks and added 42 kills.
The Cardinals finished 4-4 in conference and sixth overall, while the Snowbirds were 2-6 and seventh.
2014 J-L VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE
Schedules Subject To Change
Johannesburg-Lewiston stumbles in season-ending volleyball tournament
FIFE LAKE — The Cardinals didn't end their season the way they were hoping to do so Saturday.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team, 22-24 overall, finished its regular season by squaring off in a tournament hosted by Forest Area.
J-L beat the Warriors (25-22, 24-26) and Harbor Light Christian (25-17, 25-11) but fell to Central Lake (15-25, 9-25) and Traverse City Christian (25-26, 16-25).
"We struggled with serve receive against Central Lake, especially in Game 2," J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. "We just couldn't get our offense going. We only had seven kills as a team compared to the 25 we had against Forest Area.
"It was much of the same against T.C. Christian. We couldn't get much offense going with only 12 kills as a team and a number of serving errors."
J-L's Kelsey Cherwinski had the highlight of the day against Forest Area. With her team down 21-19, the junior served five straight points to set up the Cardinals for the win.
In the second game against the Warriors, it was sophomore Taylor Kroll and junior Madison Showerman who led the Cardinals. However, errors cost them the win, despite Showerman recording nine kills and junior Sarah Korff adding 21 assists.
J-L senior Haylie Haase served seven points and Kroll served another seven — all in a row — to help their team down Harbor Light in the first set.
In the second set against Swordsmen, sophomore Haley McVannel used an eight-point run and 11 digs to push the Cardinals to a win.
Showerman finished the tournament with 25 kills, 16 digs and four blocks, while Cherwinski posted 14 kills, 21 digs and three aces.
Korff helped with 44 assists and 20 digs, Haase had 20 digs and Grace Kierczynski added 19 digs. Ellen Weaver notched 10 kills.
With the regular season wrapped up, the Cardinals compete next in the District 92 semifinal at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 5, at Mancelona.
They'll either face the Ironmen or up-and-coming Grand Traverse Academy.
"In order for us to advance (to the district final), we have to be the team that has shown up to play 'sometimes' this season," Peppin said. "We've had awesome games and horrible ones. We have the ability to beat good teams. It just all hinges on which team shows up to play.
"When we are on, everything seems to go right and it's fun to watch but when we're having a bad game, it can get ugly."
To avoid playing "ugly" volleyball, Peppin hopes her team, specifically her underclassmen, plays well on defense to create solid offensive opportunities.
"Having good serve receive will be critical for us to get our key hitters the ball," she said. "This has been a challenge for us with our youthful team of three sophomores starting, but they have all gained valuable experience this season. I've seen a ton of improvement from all the players, but these girls — McVannel, Kroll and (Claire) Huber — have come a long way especially.
"We also have to serve well and in some games, we've struggled with serving in bounds at key moments in the game. We also have to be calm under pressure and get past the mistakes we make. We have struggled with the mental side of our game, so I'm hoping we can be focused all the way thorough our match Wednesday and make it to play another day."
Johannesburg-Lewiston tunes up for district with Boyne City tourney
The Cardinals used their opportunity to get some of their reserve players playing time while it was missing Ali Johnson, Grace Kierczynski and Claire Huber.
"We had some major adjustments to make," said J-L coach Kristine Peppin of missing three players. "We also had two other players recently return from injuries, so they needed some time to adjust, too.
"Several girls stepped up in a big way and had some opportunities to show what they could do. It was tough against Petoskey and Kingsley, both strong programs, but we held our own against the other small schools."
J-L lost to Kingsley (20-25, 6-25) and Petoskey (5-25, 12-25) but edged Mackinaw City (25-22, 27-25) during pool play.
While playing in a consolation bracket, it took care of Mackinaw City again (25-12, 25-14) in a semifinal game until falling to Engadine (14-25, 19-25) in the final.
"We performed better in the (consolation bracket)," Peppin said. "That put us eighth out of 12 teams. I think that was fairly respectable considering three starters were absent."
Haley McVannel, who had 11 kills and 23 digs, was 30-for-33 serving. Sarah Korff added 51 assists, 38 digs, eight aces and was 30-for-34 serving, while Madison Showerman had 21 kills and nine blocks and Tiffany McDonald was 14-for-15 serving.
"Showerman was a force for us all day on offense and defense, with 11 kills versus Mackinaw City and eight versus Engadine," Peppin said. "She had some great quick hits and beautiful blocks."
J-L hosts Lincoln Alcona and Suttons Bay for a triangular Tuesday, Oct. 28.
The J-L junior varsity team competed in a tournament Saturday at Mancelona and placed fourth in pool play. Bailey Bennett had 26 kills and was 25-for-28 serving with seven aces, while Alicia Korff added 30 assists and Deanna Miller posted six kills, was 20-for-21 serving and had seven aces.
Mental errors cost Johannesburg-Lewiston in league volleyball tilt with Bellaire
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team hung with Bellaire all night, but mental errors cost the Cardinals in the end.
Whether it was slow feet, serves into the net or balls hit out of bounds, the Cardinals, 17-19 overall and 4-4 in the Ski Valley Conference, couldn't overcome their mental lapses and eventually fell to visiting Bellaire 3-1 in a league game Tuesday. The Eagles won 25-21, 26-24, 22-25 and 25-21.
"In the first two games, we were not ready to go or in it mentally," J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. "That's been the theme for us this season. We're either in it 100 percent or playing down and out. We had the height and power advantage, but we just didn't have the mental drive and focus tonight. Some of our players can find a mentality of playing to win and not to lose, but some of them don't."
Bellaire junior Brandy O'Neal took advantage of J-L's slow feet by serving five aces and smacking 16 kills, while junior Lindsay Lampman helped with 10 assists and junior Chloe Niepoth had six digs and five kills. Also helping the Eagles, Tally Goodwin had seven assists, Haley Myas served four aces and Lexi Jean Niepoth finished with five kills and four assists.
J-L senior Ali Johnson led the Cardinals with 13 kills and five digs, junior Madison Showerman recorded 11 kills and 22 digs and sophomore Haley McVannel served three aces, added three kills and had six digs. Claire Huber also helped with eight digs, and Grace Kierczynski was 10-for-10 serving.
The Cardinals finished with 25 hitting errors, 11 serving errors and 11 dig errors.
In the first set, floor errors allowed O'Neal to post four kills and two textbook blocks to help the Eagles earn an early win. Trailing by four points late, J-L put together a comeback with tips from Showerman and Kelsey Cherwinski and kills from Johnson and Huber.
But mistakes were too much for J-L to overcome.
"In the first game, we didn't put the ball in play and made it easy for Bellaire," Peppin said. "It was us giving it away. We hit the ball out of bounds and didn't get our serves in. It was just mental stuff, and we can't have that going forward."
The second set was back and forth, with J-L tying the game 24-24 after strong play from Showerman in the back row and Huber performing well on net. However, an error late and a low spike allowed Bellaire to escape with the 26-24 win.
J-L stole the third set, despite a strong effort from O'Neal. The junior smacked four kills to give Bellaire an 18-16 lead late, but a pair of Johnson aces and a kill from Showerman gave the Cardinals their first win of the night.
In the fourth set, a tip from J-L's Sarah Korff and a Bellaire mistake tied the score 20-20. However, Bellaire earned the win after Myas served three consecutive aces and O'Neal added a crucial kill.
"Bellaire's girl (Myas) served short, and we couldn't move our feet," Peppin said. "All of our girls knew it was going to be a short ball, but they just didn't react. It was an unfortunate end to the game."
Both Johnson (concussion-like symptoms) and Niepoth (illness) left the fourth set with injuries.
The Cardinals play next in a Boyne City tournament Saturday, Oct. 25, before hosting Lincoln Alcona and Suttons Bay for a triangular Tuesday, Oct. 28.
The team hopes to regroup during that time and enter the postseason on a high note when it faces either Mancelona or Grand Traverse Academy in a district semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 5, at Mancelona.
"We have two tournaments left to really figure out who we are," Peppin said. "We need to come together as we get into the last couple weeks of the season. We talk about playing like we can win, but they've been crumbling under pressure. We need to figure out how to go after teams like we own the aggressiveness to win points and not let other teams stop up."
In junior varsity action, Bellaire defeated J-L 2-1 in comeback fashion. The Cardinals won the first set 25-9 but dropped the ensuing sets 25-15 and 15-9.
Johannesburg-Lewiston captures second-place trophy at Inland Lakes tournament
INDIAN RIVER — The Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team placed second in a tournament hosted by Inland Lakes on Saturday after falling to Mancelona 2-0 10-25 and 13-25 in a championship match.
The Cardinals downed Inland Lakes 25-16 and 25-18 in a semifinal game.
In the second game against the Bulldogs, sophomore Taylor Kroll extended J-L's 9-4 lead by ripping off a seven-point serving run to ignite the Cardinals for the best win of the tournament.
To advance to the semifinal, J-L defeated St. Mary (25-21, 25-13), Mancelona (25-16, 24-26) and Inland Lakes (21-25, 25-19) and fell to Hillman (10-25, 25-21) to finish 3-1 in pool play.
J-L junior Sarah Korff served a team-high 15 aces, including six against Mancelona in pool play, and finished with 56 assists and 31 digs.
Also helping Korff, senior Ali Johnson served 10 aces, recorded 27 kills and had 37 digs, while junior Madison Showerman finished with 24 kills and 25 digs. Sophomore Haley McVannel added 25 digs, and junior Kelsey Cherwinski notched another 22.
Korff led with 36 points serving, followed by Kroll with 20 and Johnson with 19.
"We had good overall serving for the day," J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. "We just had some ups and downs on hitting, with some games with eight to nine kills for one player and other games with nine for the whole team.
"We need to be more consistent as we gear up for the playoffs. Good passing makes all the difference on hitting, and we had some highs and lows there, too."
The Cardinals suffered a 3-1 setback against host Pellston on Thursday, as the Hornets proved why they're the second-best team in the Ski Valley Conference this season.
Pellston downed J-L 21-25, 25-12, 25-11 and, in a close match, 25-23.
Johnson served 10 points and three aces, added 11 digs and had five kills. Showerman helped by posting 15 kills and six digs, and Korff recorded 21 assists and nine digs.
The Cardinals, 17-18 overall and 4-3 in the Ski Valley, host Bellaire at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a Parents Night matchup.
In the junior varsity game, J-L defeated Pellston 3-0 (26-24, 26-24, 16-14), with Bailey Bennett serving three aces and four kills, Madison May adding four kills and Alicia Korff finishing 10-for-10 serving and helping with 13 assists.
Onaway 3, Johannesburg-Lewiston 0: Onaway defeats J-L to remain league's leader in volleyball
JOHANNESBURG — The Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team came out flat Tuesday, and that hurt its play against the top team in the Ski Valley Conference.
Onaway, 6-0 in conference play, took advantage of sloppy errors and sluggish play to down host J-L 3-0 and remain atop the league's standings, winning 25-15, 25-14 and 25-15 in a three-set sweep.
"We didn't have momentum or energy from the beginning," said J-L coach Kristine Peppin, whose team is 13-15 overall and 4-2 in the Ski Valley. "We weren't even in it mentally, and we just played flat. It was a tough game for us, and I don't think the scores reflected the type of team we normally are. The wheels definitely came off tonight."
Leading the Cardinals against Onaway, junior Madison Showerman recorded eight kills and nine digs, junior Sarah Korff added 14 assists and nine digs, and sophomore Claire Huber served two aces.
Onaway used runs of five, four and four points to defeat J-L 25-15 in the first set. The game was close until Onaway captured a four-point lead midway through the action. Its defense helped generate that lead as the Cardinals slowed down J-L's attack at the net. It also took advantage of a few sloppy J-L serves that went outside of the boundary lines and others that didn't make it over the net.
J-L struggled the most in the second set, with Onaway earning a quick 25-14 decision. A five-point serving run by Onaway Jade Galer and another run by senior Morganne Badgero allowed the Cardinals to rack up a big lead. Senior Lexi Szymoniak scored Onaway's game-winning point with a soft kill that J-L was unable to stop from hitting the hardwood.
Several errors hindered J-L throughout the set. While some players were slow to move their feet, others didn't communicate well. That led to the Cardinals chasing after balls, playing in bad position and constantly playing catch up with Onaway.
Onaway's tough serving and strong spikes also hurt J-L's chances of winning.
"We made a lot of unforced errors," Peppin noted. "Onaway hit the ball very well, but we weren't getting the digs. We'd shank the ball from passes.
"Our servers played well, but they had too many errors with some unplayable balls. On defense, we let too many balls drop and didn't go for the ball at times."
Onaway's offense looked the best in its 25-15 win in the last set. While a five-point serving run by sophomore Taylor Kroll and an aggressive block by Showerman helped J-L contend in the beginning, Onaway's Szymoniak and Shyanne Corey were too much for the Cardinals to slow down. Szymoniak ignited her team's play early with a block on a Showerman spike and a serving run of six points. Corey, a freshman, followed that performance with a four-point run of her own, and Badgero gave Onaway the sweep with a thunderous kill at the end.
While J-L struggled to find rhythm on offense and couldn't quite place the ball in the hole's in Onaway's side of the court, Haley McVannel, Gracie Kierczynski and Ali Johnson each had two kills. Kroll also added three digs, followed by Kelsey Cherwinski who had two.
"Our conversation after the game was about what we're focusing on moving forward," Peppin said. "We have three weeks to correct things like being in the right place defensively, communicating and fixing other things. It's now or never to correct our errors, and it won't magically happen during the playoffs.
"We're getting attempts to do stuff on offense, but we're not doing our part with playing the ball, serving the ball or getting hits down. We haven't found that level where we can control that side of the court."
The Cardinals have an opportunity to correct those mistakes when they visit Pellston for a Ski Valley game at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16.
Also competing Tuesday, the J-L junior varsity volleyball team overcame a one-game deficit to defeat visiting Onaway 2-1. Onaway took the first set 25-23, but J-L regrouped to win the last two sets 25-22 and 15-8.
Johannesburg-Lewiston 3, Inland Lakes 1: Cardinals earn clutch varsity volleyball win over Bulldogs
INDIAN RIVER — The Cardinals needed and received a pair of clutch performances Tuesday.
Playing on the road against Inland Lakes, the Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team overcame two huge deficits to take down the Bulldogs 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22).
J-L, 11-11 overall and 3-1 in the Ski Valley Conference, trailed 21-14 in the first set. That changed after sophomore Taylor Kroll served 10 straight points, including five aces, and senior Ali Johnson posted five kills to help the Cardinals gain an early 1-0 advantage.
The two teams split the following two sets before playing a crucial fourth game.
With a 21-17 lead, Inland Lakes was four points away from forcing a fifth set before J-L's Sarah Korff took control. The junior scored six straight points to steal the set and give the Cardinals a key league win.
"We were down and playing catch-up pretty much the whole match," J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. "We were able to fight through it and show our mental toughness to play intense and just go for it, and tonight we had enough comeback repeatedly and came away with the win."
Kroll finished with 15 points serving, while Korff added 17 digs and Johnson, along with junior Madison Showerman, recorded 11 kills. Also helping the Cardinals, junior Kelsey Cherwinski had 11 digs and Haley McVannel served two aces.
"I loved the intensity and desire they showed, especially at the end of the sets when we were in tight situations," Peppin said. "We really focused on cutting down on our errors and controlling the tempo as much as possible.
"I was pleased with the overall effort and way we were able to get momentum and keep it when it really mattered."
The Cardinals compete in a tournament Saturday in St. Ignace before resuming league play Tuesday against Central Lake.
J-L downs St. Mary after slow start
GAYLORD — You can call it a comeback.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team overcame a one-game deficit to defeat host St. Mary 3-1 in a Ski Valley Conference matchup Tuesday inside Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.
Senior Ali Johnson led J-L with 11 aces, seven kills and nine digs, while junior Madison Showerman added 13 kills and nine digs, and junior Sarah Korff had 26 assists.
Bekah Myler stood out for the Snowbirds. The junior recorded five kills, five aces and two blocks. Senior Jacquelyn Harbin posted nine kills and 10 digs, and junior Alysse Masko finished with six aces, 16 assists and 10 digs.
St. Mary capitalized on both offensive and defensive errors to take down the Cardinals 25-16 in the first set, and Masko went on a five-point run serving that J-L couldn’t slow down.
“We came out cold and had a lot of errors in Game 1,” J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. “We struggled a little bit with (Masko). She scored five points in a row, and they went on a little run and it got ugly in a hurry. We were down 10 points or so and we tried to play catchup. It was just too late.”
The Cardinals regrouped between the sets and made adjustments to improve their play on the court.
“We talked mostly about controlling what we could do on the floor (between sets),” Peppin said. “We didn’t set the tempo in Game 1. We let them control the play and weren’t attacking or going after the kill or serve. We only had one little run with Gracie (Kierczynski) serving three points in a row, and they made a couple of good runs in a row. We just started to focus on playing our game and controlling the things that went into our side of the court.”
Fortune changed for J-L in the second set when Johnson went on a 10-point run to break a 7-7 tie early in the game. Seven of Johnson’s serves were aces.
The Cardinals finished with a 25-18 win and went on to win the next two sets 25-14 and 25-18 to secure the league victory.
“They worked really hard on receiving Ali’s serves, but her aces were game changers,” Peppin said. “And we got good looks on offense. Madison had a couple of kills in that streak, but it was mostly Ali’s serving. She ended up with 11 aces, and that’s been an area our team has been trying to improve at. Her serving gave us lots of chances and created offensive opportunities for us.”
The Cardinals recorded 19 aces in the four sets and posted a 93 serving percentage, their best of the season.
Peppin acknowledged how tough the game was for her team to pull out but did say the win was much sweeter against their chief rival.
“It always feels good to beat them, and we’ve had a good rivalry with St. Mary in the past few years,” she said. “We’ve been on the winning end in the last couple of games, and I don’t think we’ve ever lost a conference game to them since I’ve become the coach at Johannesburg-Lewiston. We’ve lost to them in tournaments, but in conference play, we are always able to come away from the games with wins.
“They’ve been our nemesis, and we don’t always come out strong against them. We don’t have have the greatest games, but when it comes down to serving, we always have someone step into being a strong hitter. That was no exception tonight with Madison and Ali running over them on offense. They didn’t have an answer for the two of them and had a tough time defending multiple tall girls.”
For the Snowbirds, the game was a learning experience and something they hope they can build upon going forward this season.
“The girls worked hard the entire match, and I am pleased with their level of play,” St. Mary coach Amy Handley said. “It was an intense match. We know what we need to work on and will do nothing but improve as the season goes on. I am excited to see where we go from here.”
JOHANNESBURG — It wasn't as easy as the score may indicate.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team (7-7, 1-0 SVC) scratched and clawed their way to a 3-0 win in Wednesday's Ski Valley Conference opener against visiting Forest Area. They defeated the Warriors 25-16, 25-23 and 25-22 with the last two sets requiring a plethora of comebacks and tie breakers.
Senior Ali Johnson led the Cardinals with 17 serving points, eight aces, seven kills and five digs, junior Madison Showerman recorded 13 kills and sophomore Haley McVannel tallied 28 assists.
"We had our work cut out for us and even faced a deficit at the beginning of the third game," J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. "Forest Area is always a tough team and tough conference game to play every year. Playing against them early on sets the tone for our season because Forest Area is a top three or four team each season, no matter how many players they graduate from the previous year. They're always wild card contenders and their girls don't quit.
"We work to try and emulate Forest Area's never-give-up attitude, and my girls showed me that tonight."
In the third set, Forest Area led 6-3 until J-L put together a seven-point comeback to regain the lead. The Cardinals led by as many as five points, but the Warriors continued to play catch up, eventually tying it 22-22. After a Peppin timeout, Johnson served up the final three points, including an ace on her final attempt, to give her team the well-fought victory.
"I told them to settle down and to play our game during the timeout," Peppin said. "We needed to get back into playing our game to regain control. There were a couple of plays in a row where Forest Area set the tone of the game. We struggled with serve receive and a couple of weeks ago, we would have let teams beat us that way for points. We had a shift and showed just how much our attitudes mattered in that game."
J-L worked just as hard to down Forest Area in the second set. The Warriors tied the game seven different times and trailed 24-23 before J-L earned its last point. Johnson strung together five points in a row early, and Showerman ignited a similar run with a powerful spike in the end.
Sophomore Claire Huber scored the game-deciding point after slamming down a spike toward the near corner of the court.
"I don't think they realize how much that run in the second game made a difference," Peppin said. "Getting to that point of the game was do-or-die time. That was against a Forest Area team that had energy and desire to slow us down. We needed to keep our composure after they got a big run. Our girls were confident in their skills, took the ball back and took care of business. They had the mentality that no matter what the score was, they were not going to play scared in that situation."
Also contributing in the win, senior Gracie Kierczynski posted 11 points and four aces, sophomore Taylor Kroll finished with eight points and two aces and senior Haylie Haase had 10 digs.
"Taylor stepped it up in the serving department," Peppin said. "She is definitely improved and has got the power. We want to harness it and use that. The better control she gets with hitting the ball, the more she opens it up both outside and for our middle players.
"For having several sophomores who are starting and playing regularly, they've come a long way fast and are gaining valuable experience."
It's also worth noting that Wednesday was only Johnson's fourth day practicing and playing for J-L. She recently transferred from Boyne City, but the Cardinals have welcomed her and her athletic ability. She is 6-foot tall and has an AAU volleyball background.
Outside of fending off Forest Area's offense, Peppin said another challenge was ensuring her team's new lineup with Johnson gelled on the court.
"We switched around some of the rotations and it took us time to get comfortable with it," Peppin said. "They looked more comfortable tonight, and our serve receive looked better. We needed Tuesday night for Ali to settle into her role and for the other girls to figure out where they stand on the team.
"Ali may be taller than Madison, so that brings a whole other dimension to our game. She's a competitor and brings great energy and fits in nicely. We've had to make adjustments and changes, but the girls are looking at it as a positive. Her height is helping us and with Madison slamming it down, it's tough for other teams to key on just one particular player. Everyone we face must play honest defense now. I know teams in our conference are classifying us as a rebuild but with the change of one player, it changes our entire outlook for this season. We have a shot to win our conference, for sure."
The Cardinals continue league play when they host St. Mary at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9.
Varsity roundup: Gaylord, J-L play in Houghton Lake volleyball tournament
HOUGHTON LAKE — The volleyball season for Otsego County teams began Friday with Gaylord and Johannesburg-Lewiston visiting Houghton Lake for an eight-team tournament.
Gaylord collected wins against Lake City, Houghton Lake, Harrison, Suttons Bay, Whittemore Prescott and J-L before falling to Suttons Bay 25-21 in bracket play.
"The semifinal game was a hard loss," Gaylord second-year coach Trista Sitz said. "We let them (Suttons Bay) get a lead they kept until the end. We started fighting back, but it wasn't soon enough and that was it since it was a one-set game."
Sophomore Casey Korte was among the standouts for the Blue Devils. She finished with 29 aces and 34 kills at the tournament, while junior Ashley May added 16 kills and junior Brandi Wagner posted 74 assists and 14 digs.
"We missed quite a few serves which killed our momentum at times, but they still flowed well on the court and played well together," Sitz said. "I think some of our unforced errors were the result of it being the first tournament and games of the season."
J-L, playing in its first of two weekend tournaments, finished 2-4 with wins against Harrison and Whittemore Prescott.
Junior Kelsey Cherwinski helped the Cardinals with 34 digs, 10 aces and eight kills, while junior Sarah Korff had 36 assists and 31 digs.
"We had a couple of great matches," J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. "We had great energy and were working hard, but things just didn't go our way. Maybe some of it was our nerves and our inexperience that got to us a little at the end of tight matches. But the more we are in those situations, the more experience we get at playing and winning in those situations."
• St. Mary hosted a seven-team tournament Saturday inside Monsignor Kaminski Gymnasium.
The Snowbirds ended the tournament with wins against Alanson, Ellsworth, J-L and Wolverine but fell to tournament champion Hillman and runner-up Mancelona.
For the tournament, junior Bekah Myler led St. Mary with 21 kills and eight aces, and junior Alysse Masko added 36 assists, 16 digs and nine kills.
"By the end of the day, I felt like we were really getting into our groove," St. Mary coach Amy Handley said. "This was a great way for me to figure out, as a new coach, where all the girls are going to fit in on the team. It's difficult to do that in practice when I have 12 girls and we've had only seven practices so far. This tournament helped me figure out where our team is at."
Also competing in the tournament, J-L defeated Alanson, Ellsworth and Wolverine. However, it lost to Hillman, Mancelona and St. Mary.
Sophomore Taylor Kroll recorded 16 aces, and Cherwinski posted 17 kills and 45 digs. Korff finished the tournament with 13 aces, including nine in one game.
"Our serving was pretty good, but we struggled with hitting," Peppin said. "We're at the point where some of our girls are trying to figure out when to hit the ball or go for an attack to make a play. We had hitting errors into the net but compared to Friday, we improved on things and our passing was better. We let a lot less balls hit the floor, and I was pleased with that."
Season preview: J-L hopes young volleyball talent overcomes inexperience
JOHANNESBURG — Graduation was not kind to the Johannesburg-Lewiston varsity volleyball team.
The Cardinals graduated four 2013 Herald Times All-Area players in Brittany Cherwinski, Julia Nieman, Hailey Weaver and Erin Kortman. That team, which edged East Jordan in a tough district opener, had a successful season before falling to host Charlevoix in the district semifinal.
This year's squad features just two seniors, Haylie Haase and Gracie Kierczynski, five juniors and three sophomores. Only four of their 10 players saw varsity playing time last season.
However, what they lack in experience, they make up with on-court communication and work ethic.
"We're very young and inexperienced, but they're also all hard workers," J-L coach Kristine Peppin said. "They're one of the loudest groups that we've had. That's been an area we haven't traditionally been good with. We've been strong on play, but we haven't had the vocalness right off the bat. That's something they've shown me immediately (in practice), and they've had great work ethic."
Peppin recently named Haase, J-L's libero and defensive specialist, the team's captain. The senior led the Cardinals all summer in offseason workouts, open gyms and at volleyball camps.
So far in practice, when Haase isn't leading by example, she is instructing the younger players how to do drills or position themselves on the floor.
"She's been our most vocal and aggressive player this summer, and I just named her as captain," Peppin said. "She's a good floor leader, is really loud and brings a lot of energy. She helps the team bring their energy up. She's been a very responsible kid who reminds other kids of the stuff they need to do. She's really just been our leader all summer."
Juniors Madison Showerman, Sarah Korff and Kelsey Cherwinski will help Haase carry the younger players. Showerman and Korff have previous varsity playing experience, while Cherwinski is expected to be the top first-year varsity player this season. Juniors Tiffany McDonald and Faith Bartle also add depth to the team.
The Cardinals elevated three sophomores, Taylor Kroll, Haley McVannel and Claire Huber, from the junior varsity to replace the large amount of seniors J-L lost to graduation. Each sophomore will be an immediate starter and add a dimension of toughness to the team's offense.
"Each of them (sophomores) brings us something for hitting," Peppin said. "That's an area we needed to fill in. A lot of starters graduated last year. They have work to do, but they're all bringing something to the hitting game, and I thought they'd be ready to help us."
Personnel and inexperience aside, J-L's goal for this season is to win a district championship. The team will have help this season, as they avoid playing in the same district tournament as area power Charlevoix.
"Our No. 1 goal is to always win the district," Peppin said. "We have a new district draw this year. We thought we'd be in the same district as Charlevoix and Boyne City this year, and Charlevoix is a pretty dominate team. We're not in their district this year.
"That gives us better odds to make it to the district final. If we progress throughout the season, I think on any given day, we could have a shot at winning a district."
As for the team's outlook in the Ski Valley Conference, Peppin has tempered her expectations of where the team could finish this season.
"Wherever we start, we're going to make a lot of growth throughout the season," Peppin said. "I'm hoping to finish in the upper 1/3 or middle of our conference. We were runners up last year, but I have a lot of new faces this year. We'll just have to see what our competition looks like."
Johannesburg-Lewiston Varsity Volleyball Roster 2014
#0 Haylie Haase
Johannesburg-Lewiston Junior Varsity Volleyball Roster 2014
#1 Merissa Guess
Head Coach: Kim Marlatt
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