Schoolcraft and Bronson are set for a regional final rematch Thursday following Tuesday’s semifinal victories. The third-ranked Eagles outlasted Niles Brandywine in a five-set thriller, meanwhile the defending state champion Vikings swept ninth-ranked Centreville.
You can listen to Thursday’s regional final live from JoeInsider.com via the embedded player at the bottom of the page with a 6 p.m. ET first serve.
Schoolcraft defeats Brandywine 25-15, 21-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-10
Things started smoothly enough for Schoolcraft Tuesday, dominating throughout the first set. Brandywine jumped out to an early 8-5 second set lead and the Bobcats were just able to stay in front each time the Eagles got close.
Schoolcraft never trailed in the third set, although Brandywine stayed within two or three points most of the way. A 3-0 run out of a Brandywine timeout build the Eagle lead to its largest point at six.
The fourth game saw four lead changes with Schoolcraft up 15-13 at the first timeout. By the next stoppage, the Bobcats held a n18-17 advantage and held firm from there to force the decisive fifth set. In the final frame, the Eagles raced to a 4-1 start and never looked back.
Andelyn Simkins had a monster game for Schoolcraft, unofficially racking up 35 kills. Maggie Morris added 12 and Kayla Onken had 10, putting the Eagles at 45-7-2 on the season.
Brandywine finishes at 45-6 and graduates seniors Nicole Sachman, Audrey Longley, and Olivia Thomas. Sachman led the Bobcats with 14 kills, followed by 12 via Bethany Duval.
Bronson defeats Centreville 25-23, 25-16, 25-13
Centreville came out firing against the three-time defending champs, leaping out to a 9-5 lead in the first set. The second-ranked Vikings answered with a 9-2 run of their own after their first timeout. The Bulldogs tied the match up at 19-19, but Bronson would hold on to the slight advantage to take the first set on their home floor.
The second set saw four early lead changes, but a huge Bronson run with six Keona Salesman aces quickly deflated Centreville’s momentum.
“In the second set, it started off very similar to the first,” said Centreville coach Deric Mostrom. “A couple runs here and there for each team and then they pushed. The player we felt like we needed to take out of the game in her defense and hitting, attacked us on her serve. Keona hit serve after serve and we were not able to get it up at a consistent rate to score on. The Bronson serve has always hit us hard for years. Not that they do anything super, but they hit us time and time again to get us off-balanced and out of system.”
The Vikings led by as many as 14 before settling on a nine-point win in the second. They would not trail at any point in the third. Bronson improves to 54-6 on the season, led by 16 kills from Salesman.
“There were a couple things we knew we would have to do tonight,” said Mostrom. “At times we did them very well and at times we struggled. Versus a second-ranked team in the state, we can’t struggle like we did tonight and win.
“We kept to our game plan most the night. Hit some of the weak spots off a good pass and set, while also serving tough to keep Bronson off-balanced. We attacked hard when we got the opportunity and kept Bronson on their toes the first set. We got pushed and we were never able to push back.”
The Bulldogs close with a 49-6-4 record and graduate seniors Logan Jourdan, Ivee Lewis, and Samara Schlabach.
“I am super proud of these girls and what they have accomplished this season,” said Mostrom. “Samara will be considered for a long time as one of the most consistent players Centreville has ever seen. Logan is a work horse. She has sacrificed so much this year to be the defensive player she has turned into. I put a lot of pressure on her this year and she was up for the task day in and day out. Ivee is a very strong young woman. No matter what I asked her to do, she always did her best and had a good attitude about it. I will miss the leadership that she brought to the team.”
“It was a good year and we have lots to be proud of…but we know we are going to have to do more next year. We will be back and we will be ready.”
Kenleigh West-Wing: 2 kills, 2 digs
Zoey Lebarre: 2 digs
Sarah Stauffer: 1 digs
Logan Jourdan: 16 digs
Jaedan Blades: 3 digs
Hannah Duchene: 1 ace, 2 blocks, 7 digs
Joannah Larsen: 9 kills, 2 blocks, 3 digs
Ivee Lewis: 1 ace, 4 kills, 1 block, 1 dig
Samara Schlabach: 2 aces, 5 kills, 12 assists, 5 digs
Kate Miles: 1 dig
Isabel Stauffer: 6 digs, 4 assists
Now comes a highly anticipated rematch between Schoolcraft and Bronson, who played a five-set thriller in last season’s regional final (21-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-17, 15-5). The Vikings have now won 26 consecutive postseason matches with a 78-5 set record. Last year’s battle with the Eagles is the only five-set playoff match Bronson has had in their title run.
You can listen to Thursday’s match via the player below with a 6 p.m. first serve from Bronson High School.