Clare strikers drop semi-final match to Gladwin

November 8, 2018

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

All four sets were close. The Clare volleyball team wasn’t able to come out on top of enough of them however, as the Lady Pioneers fell to eventual district champion Gladwin on Thursday in four sets, 26-24, 22-25, 25-18 and 28-26. The loss came on the Lady Flying G’s home court in a district semi-final tilt.

Clare celebrates a point during Thursday’s district semi-final loss to Gladwin.

Clare celebrates a point during Thursday’s district semi-final loss to Gladwin.

Clare’s Kennedy Blackburn sets the ball for a teammate.

Clare’s Kennedy Blackburn sets the ball for a teammate.

 Jayce Jordan readies herself for a service attempt.

Jayce Jordan readies herself for a service attempt.

“The girls played with everything they had, they can be proud of the way their season ended,” head coach Shannon Zinser said. “The gym was full of energy and there were some hard-fought close games. It was team effort that makes me proud of each and every member on this team.”

Leading the way on the night was Olivia Cook with 13 kills, 20 digs and two aces, Jenna Betts added 13 kills as well, Kennedy Blackburn had seven kills, 34 assists and two aces, Jayce Jordan added six kills and 27 digs and Bailey Taylor had two aces and 39 digs.

“I am proud of the maturity they showed in focusing on the things they can control,” Zinser said. “This team showed great sportsmanship and character in the hard moments all year long.  Going into districts we focused on serving mentality and smart choices while serving tough.  The girls executed this against Gladwin with only three missed serves and seven aces.  We had a great night in terms of first contacts, which allowed us to set up our hitters more effectively, while our defense did a great job of keeping the ball in play.”

Despite coming up a bit short in the back-and-forth battle, Zinser will look back on the year quite fondly.
“This was a fun season, full of growth and improvement,” she said. “The graduating seniors are the first group that I coached as fifth and sixth graders and they are a huge part of the growth and the direction this program has taken. Former Varsity Coach, Emily Blackburn and I worked very hard to get a junior high volleyball program at Clare and these seniors were the first group to be a part of that program.  They have put in so much time on and off the court to make Clare Volleyball something to be proud of and they will be missed.   Commitment to the program has really been driven by this group, we hope to see the next class pick up where this class left off and continue to evolve the culture.”

Of course the end of the season will force a transition of sorts before next year rolls around.

“There will be some large roles to fill next year, but we have a great group of up and coming players who are capable of doing just that,” Zinser said. “We’ll need to make up for the loss of some ball control in Jayce and a setter in Kennedy so we’ll need to spend some time in the gym to grow in those two areas.

“We have a lot of very solid younger players with great potential so we just have to put in the work to develop them,” she added. “We have had a steady increase in girls who are putting in the time in the off-season, coming to team camp and doing what it takes to help this program grow.   Every ending is a new beginning, the 2019 season starts now!”

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