IRON RIVER—At their final meeting of the regular season here Oct. 22, the West Iron and Forest Park volleyball coaches saw things they liked—and things they wished they hadn’t seen.
On the scoreboard, it was another 3-0 sweep for the Lady Trojans, on scores of 25-23, 25-10, 25-21. Forest Park Coach Kim Bjork, though, wished her team had served more consistently.
You could see why in the first set. With the Wykons focused and playing very well, three of the first six Lady Trojans to get the ball couldn’t complete a legal serve. It happened five times in that first set. At other times, a Trojan girl would earn one point but send the next serve wide or long or into the net.
In contrast, West Iron made just one service error in the first set. That helped them stay close. West Iron’s Missy Koski had a pair of three-point turns on serve—the last one got West Iron to within a point at 20-19.
Inevitably, though, senior Lexi Gussert led the Trojans to safety with kill shots that fooled the Wykons or simply were too hot to handle. Libby Shamion’s ace ended the set.
The second set story was completely different, as WIC Coach Brenda Grubbs used her bench extensively. It was West Iron’s final home match, as well as senior night and parents night, so all the Wykon girls got their chance to perform before the home fans.
For a while it worked—until Hannah Marinoff took serve for FP with a 10-7 lead. She proceeded to fire nine straight service winners. None of them were aces—instead, the Lady Trojans’ net play got the better of West Iron. Later, Kendra Campbell ended the set with three consecutive aces.
By the way, FP only made two service errors in the second set. After the first set battle went into the third rotation, the second set barely made it into the second.
Early in the third set, Shamion fired in three more aces to get the Lady Trojans ahead (4-1), before Abbie Grubbs aced in two for the Wykons (FP, 7-5). Two points served by Maria Stankewicz and four from Adel Isaacson built up a 15-9 Lady Trojan lead.
Later WIC’s India Schindler served two, cutting FP’s lead to 16-13, but the Lady Trojans earned a series of single points and finished off the match win.
Four FP service errors in the third set; two by West Iron.
Part of FP’s serving problems is because several Trojans use the jump serve—a powerful weapon when on target but hard to master. “You live and die by the jump serve,” Coach Bjork said. “We need to get more consistent with that.
“If it’s working, it’s great. But if it’s not, it’s a big dagger for us.”
The Lady Trojans’ coach also talked about unforced errors. “Nothing they did to us. Like I said, we’ve been our own worst enemy.” When the Lady Trojans cut back their mistakes in the second set, they were on Easy Street. “Cat and mouse—that’s what it seems like we were playing.”
In practice, she said, the Lady Trojans are working on being more dynamic at the net—playing at different tempos. “We’re trying to speed things up, slow things down, trying to control the pace of the game.”
And then there’s the struggle for consistency. “Hopefully we can work out the kinks in the next two weeks. We have lots of work ahead of us.”
Forest Park stats: Lexi Gussert, 13 kills, 2 aces, 2 digs, 2 blocks; Kendra Campbell, 8 kills, 3 aces; Libby Shamion, 7 kills, 6 aces, 2 digs; Maria Stankewicz, 22 assists, 2 digs; Adel Isaacson, 2 assists.
• The West Iron match was Forest Park’s only action last week. They are 24-1-5 overall and 11-0 in the Skyline Conference as the season’s final week begins. (That one loss? It came back in the season-opening tournament at Kingsford back on Aug. 24.)
FP meets Kingsford Oct. 29 on senior night and ends the regular season at Bark River on Oct.31. The Class D District 127 tournament is next week at Ewen-Trout Creek: FP plays Watersmeet Nov. 6 in a semifinal match. The title match is Nov. 7.