Jets shock Bulldogs with strong road performance

Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette The Jets’ Heidi Hillstrom (second from right) waits for a ball to fall to where she can play it during a match with the Bulldogs Thursday at the Hancock Gym.

HANCOCK — It was a volleyball thriller being shown not on the big screen but rather on the floor of Hancock Gym on Thursday night. In the starring roles were the Hancock Bulldogs and the Jeffers Jets. In the end, the Jets took home an “Emmy” for their magnificent performance.

They defeated the Bulldogs, 28-26, 20-25, 25-23, 25-23 win.

Jeffers coach Rachel Torp, who, along with her team are in their first year, was ecstatic as she hopped up and down, twisted and turned, clapped and cheered from the bench. In short, she couldn’t sit still, nor could she stand still.

“Wow, what a game, she said. “My girls fought hard from the first serve to the end.”

She credited senior Heidi Hillstrom for keeping the Jets moving forward offensively as she had 57 assists in the match. Another key Jet was Marissa Nordstrom. She propelled the Jets with her stellar defense with 34 of the team’s 43 digs.

“The better team won tonight,” said Hancock coach Sarah Grieger. “We made some mistakes, but they just played better than us.”

In the first set, there were 10 lead changes. The Jets stayed alive with a strong back row stopping the booming hits of senior Bulldog Karena Holmstrom, who led her squad with 14 kills including two kills in a row in that first set. Another threat on the Hancock side of the court was Kayla Colombo.

A key block by the Jets’ Jersey Hoover tied the game at 23. Both teams battled it out to take it to 26-26. Entrenched in a nail-biter, both teams had hard smashes and pushes all over the court. Ultimately, the Jets pushed ahead and hung on for a stunning 28-26 victory.

The second set was similar in its excitement. The Bulldogs’ Maddie Johnson, who finished the night with 36 assists, started things off with a run of five.

The Jets came back to tie it at five thanks to strategic play of Nordstrom and Brenna Hill. The duo kept the Bulldogs guessing where the ball was going to come next as they executed precision placement. Down 23-20, Jeffers called a timeout to slow the game down, but it did little good as Johnson did what she does best and put a pair of serves together that ended the game in favor of the hosts.

The plot only got better in the third set as the Jets stayed ahead by only one or two points. It looked like a tennis match with back-and-forth play from the back line to the net, however according to Grieger that was a turning point in this game. It was the fact that her team had seven misserves.

“We couldn’t put any rallies together,” she said. “I told the girls that we can’t let one mistake get us down and allow it to turn into four mistakes. We need to fix the problem.”

In the closing act of the fourth set, the Bulldogs were up by five at 18-13. However, they couldn’t keep any consistency going. Either they couldn’t get it over the net on serves, or a number of their offensive hits went out of bounds. The Jets’ Miranda Heinonen had a run of six to put the game away.

“I’m so proud of my girls. I couldn’t have asked them to play any better,” said Torp. “They kept communicating and the momentum up and that was the key to tonight’s game.”

The Bulldogs did have strong performances from D’Andra Kero, who finished her night with 12 kills, and Rebecca Jarvey, who added seven. Delaney Heinonen led the defensive effort with 19 digs. Holmstrom picked up nine digs to help out.