ST. CLAIR – St. Clair handed Marine City its first Macomb Area Conference Gold Division loss Tuesday night in a four-game victory.
After losing in five the first time the two teams met, the Saints rode a scrappy defense and strong front line to a 25-22, 25-26, 30-32, 25-16 victory against their rival.
“We’ve been working on drills where I make them start where they’re down a couple points and they have to fight back, so it was good to see them put that to use,” St. Clair coach Stephanie Pietrzak said. “We’ve definitely been working on a quicker offense, scrappier defense, and they put it to work today. We lost to them in five at the beginning of the season, so it’s kind of good to see all of your hard work put to use, and the outcome of it was awesome.”
Jessica Bohm and Brooke Mahn each had 11 kills for the Saints, while Brenna Johnson had 10. Mariah Slis had 23 assists.
Karyssa Austin led the Mariners with 26 digs, 13 service receptions, nine kills, six blocks and five service points, while Desaray DeSnyder had 23 digs, 14 assists and six points, and Taelor Frank had 22 digs, 17 service receptions, 14 kills, seven points and five blocks.
The teams traded leads in the first game, with the Mariners getting ahead by as many as five points at 18-13. But St. Clair scored seven of the next eight to take a 20-19 lead, and didn’t give it up, putting the game away with a hard serve from Mackenzie Buslepp that wound up as an ace.
St. Clair led for most of the second game, putting it away by winning the final seven points.
Throughout the game, the Saints were able to scramble and recover, keeping the ball in play, while Marine City struggled to do the same. The presence of Jessica Bohm and Brooke Mahn at the net was big in that game. They got some help from setter Mariah Slis, as well.
The third game ended with a battle of wills between the rivals, as the Mariners refused to die and the Saints did all they could to end things.
Marine City led 24-23, but wasn’t able to put it away until several dramatic rallies were held getting the score into the 30s. At one point the scoreboard operator accidentally put 100 up for the Saints. One couldn’t blame her for losing track.
“We just pushed through it,” Mahn said of regrouping after losing the third game. “We knew that coming into it they were practicing all week for us, so we just worked hard to get it done.”
The beginning of the fourth game was played with the players providing almost all the noise. It was as if the crowd was either regrouping from the end of the third, or saving up for what could be another dramatic finish. They didn’t need it, as the Saints got well ahead and cruised to the victory.
“They played aggressive defense tonight — they were a lot better team tonight than they were at our place,” Marine City coach Kelly Thomas said. “We didn’t play well, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a lot. They made a lot of great defensive plays, and there were a lot of scrambling plays, and good defensive plays, on both sides, I thought. They were overall able to capitalize more on those.”