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Volleyball: Bulldogs edge Panthers in 5 sets

The Hancock High School varsity volleyball team celebrates after winning the fifth set of a 3-2 victory over Chassell on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, in Hancock Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — It wasn’t perfect, but Hancock did enough to thwart Chassell in five sets for a volleyball victory on Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs (1-0) under first-year head coach Elle Heinonen, took down the Panthers by scores of 21-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-21 and 15-7.

Hancock outscored Chassell 10-1 in the fifth set to seal the five-set win.

“The momentum game in volleyball is huge,” Heinonen said. “Just working to keep momentum and keep rolling. That’s a good team that showed up for Chassell tonight. Being able to shut them down and take that momentum from them was huge and running with that. That was awesome.”

Keeping the momentum, when neither team hardly played before Tuesday, was a difficult thing. Chassell took the first and third sets by the same 25-21 score. Both teams battled unforced errors.

“We did OK. It was definitely not one of our better games,” Chassell head coach Karli Michaels said. “It’s our first game of the season, so we’re going to take from it and learn from it and move forward.”

Chassell (0-1) hung with the Bulldogs through each set, but Hancock found spurts of momentum that kept Chassell back on its heels. One particular lengthy volley in the second set went to Hancock for a 12-11 lead. The Bulldogs stayed ahead and carved a 21-17 lead and the eventual 25-19 set win.

Chassell, despite mis-hits and missed serves, found a way to hang around. The Panthers rebounded from the second set loss to third set. They took a 3-0 lead to start before the Bulldogs took control and an 8-3 lead. Chassell eventually regained the lead at 17-16, holding on by a thread for a 25-21 set win. The middle of the Bulldogs’ floor opened up, where the Panthers found points. The Bulldogs also had some mis-hits and unforced errors. Battling for five sets with a larger school gives the Panthers some pride moving forward.

“They’re definitely a lot bigger school and a massive team,” Michaels said. “It’s nice knowing a team like Chassell can still fight against a big school like this.”

Heinonen, who played four years of volleyball at Michigan Tech, said defense has been a priority early in the season. The rest will come as the season goes.

“We’ve been working on defense and ball control, just cleaning up the game of volleyball right now and fundamentals,” Heinonen said. “As the season progresses, we’ll continue advance our game, but right now I’m proud of how hard they worked and their grit on the floor.”

Michaels said her team’s inconsistencies were too much to overcome.

“Some of the sets the girls looked really good together,” she said. “They were talking and communicating. The sets they lost, they weren’t talking or communicating and making stupid errors and that got to us, especially in the last set.”

Hancock visits Lake Linden-Hubbell on Thursday. Michaels said Chassell’s match at Dollar Bay on Thursday will be rescheduled for another day.

ALSO: Ontonagon swept Dollar Bay by scores of 25-23, 25-18 and 25-19. The Gladiators were led with seven kills each from Nicole Lukkari and Makennah Uotila. Teddy Menigoz and Emmy Bobula had 18 combined assists. Ontonagon hosts Jeffers on Thursday.

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