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Wykons lose five-set district heartbreaker

IRON RIVER—For the competitive, no loss in athletics is a pleasant experience, but some are much more difficult to bear than others. The West Iron County volleyball team can attest to that.
    The Wykons seemed moments away from a first-round district victory over Hancock on Nov. 4, leading the Bulldogs 11-7 in the fifth set at a rocking Charles Greenlund Gymnasium. But as the sport of volleyball is apt to go, the match turned on its head as Hancock went on an eight-point run to end West Iron’s season with a 25-19, 15-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-11 decision in the Division 3 District 65 first round.
    Hancock junior Marina Kero knocked down three kills to spark the decisive surge, while the Wykons were unable to steady themselves. A couple of bad breaks on a Hancock mishit that dropped on West Iron’s side and a soft fluttering ace that did the same combined with some nervy play by West Iron proved to be the difference in the final moments.
    “I think the shock of it was just hitting us too hard,” said senior Courtney Reitmeyer. “That we were that close, and we just couldn’t get (the ball) up and it hit the floor a few times.”
    “I think we were just frazzled, and we didn’t settle or take a deep breath and it just kept building up and building up,” added senior Mya Grubbs.
    West Iron, which had defeated Hancock in five sets earlier in the season, built its fifth-set lead by breaking a 7-all tie. Reitmeyer stuffed a Hancock overpass and Jordan Shamion served back-to-back aces to put the Wykons in a position to extend their season into the district semifinals.
    But the hosts could not finish the deal, leaving a bunch of stunned players and a coach to try to explain what happened in the final moments of the match.
    “It’s hard to process this quick because it was a really good match,” WIC coach Brenda Grubbs said. “I mean, competitive. And when the kids go out and play competitively, that’s all you can ask for. And sometimes you can’t get a good shake on anything.”
    The final stretch of the match was much like the opening set as the Wykons (9-6 in duals) began the match on their heels and struggling to deal with nerves. Hancock jumped out to a 5-1 lead and never relinquished its control of the first set.
    The Wykons struggled to pass and were tentative with their hitting. Brenda Grubbs admitted her team was edgy to start.
    “Oh, yes, and I’m like, ‘Guys, you’re making this bigger and harder than it is. You’re better than this,’ and that’s what we kept saying to them. ‘You’ve got to just settle in and go from here.’”

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