Lexi Gussert goes up high to send a spike past two North Central front-liners. In case one of them blocks the shot, FP’s Maria DeMuri (left) and Maria Stankewicz are in position to keep the ball in play.
CRYSTAL FALLS—Looking much more assertive than it had in recent weeks, Forest Park’s volleyball team took care of business when North Central visited Oct. 8.
The Lady Trojans were also up for the occasion when they visited Rapid River on Oct. 11, earning another 3-0 win. As the week ended, Forest Park was 24-3-3 overall and 11-0 in the Skyline Conference.
Three matches remain in the regular season, including one more Skyline contest.
Jet setters: It’s time to get seriously competitive, and North Central wasn’t able to cope with the Lady Trojans’ upgraded play on Oct. 8 at the elementary gym. Forest Park breezed to a 3-0 victory on scores of 25-6, 25-6, 25-14.
In both of the first two sets, the Jets only earned one point on serve. In the first, Gina Graff served in six points, and Maria Stankewicz followed with seven. In set two, Abby Sommers struck for eight early points, and Graff followed with five.
Forest Park made frequent substitutions during the third set. Sommers’ three and Stankewicz’s five got the Lady Trojans an early 11-2 lead, but this time the Jets were able to get some offense going, too, and rallied. They had closed the gap to three (16-13) before four by Graff and three from Stankewicz ended the match.
Coach Kim Bjork noted that freshman Libby Shamion has been promoted from the JV team and was quickly put to work on the left side. “We need somebody who’s going to be out there to play and work hard,” the coach said. “Libby did a nice job tonight.”
Good talk: Bjork also liked how her players improved their communication during the match. “That was a big thing tonight—communication. The girls were moving to the ball, working hard.
“That was one of the best I’ve seen from our girls. When they communicate, they hit more consistently and they play the ball better.”
Most of all, she liked the girls’ no-nonsense attitude against North Central. “We’re supposed to beat a team like this. We aren’t supposed to play the cat-and-mouse game and let them in.
“We beat them. That’s what we were supposed to do.”
Numbers: Lexi Gussert, 12 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces, 1 block; Mindy DeNell, 2 k, 5 d; Gina Graff, 6 a, 2 d; Abby Sommers, 4 aces; Maria Stankewicz, 4 a, 4 d, 25 assists; Michaela Steiro, 7 k; Libby Shamion, 2 k, 2 d. Maria DeMuri, 2 k.
At Rapid: The Trojans had a tougher task when they visited Rapid River Oct. 12, but it was a 3-0 win on scores of 25-15, 25-19, 25-11.
“A nice team,” said Bjork about the Rockets. “They have a few girls who hit the ball really well.” FP struggled with its serve reception, she noted.
Overall, she said, it was a good match for the Lady Trojans. “Everyone was covering the floor well, and for the most part our communication was consistent.
“We did a better job distributing the ball to our hitters.”
As usual, Lexi Gussert powered Forest Park with 10 kills and nine digs. This time, she also served in 11 aces.
Numbers: Gussert, 10 k, 9 d, 11 aces, 2 blks; DeNell, 3 k, 10 d; Gina Graff, 11 d, 6 aces; Sommers, 3 digs; Stankewicz, 18 asts; Shamion, 3 k, 1 ace; Mary Grandahl, 2 k.
Coming up: The Lady Trojans host West Iron in a “pink-out” match at Forest Park on Oct. 16.
Then they are off until a visit to Kingsford Oct. 23. The regular season ends Oct. 25 when Bark River-Harris visits.
Forest Park hosts this year’s District 127 tournament, which starts Oct. 29 when Wakefield-Marenisco takes on Bessemer. The winner faces the Lady Trojans Oct. 31.