Article by Ian Grande
Kenmare – It has been a roller coaster year for the Stanley Blue Jay Volleyball team. The Blue Jays entered the season with hopes of making a run at a district title. Those high hopes took a serious hit following an early season injury to Abby Iverson, one of the top all-around athletes in the region. The team muddled through the regular season and entered the district tournament as a decided underdog.
However, behind the scenes a few major developments were unfolding that would ultimately vault the Blue Jays to an unlikely title run.
First, the Blue Jays got their leader back just in time for districts. Abby Iverson rejoined the team after a nearly two month absence. The powerful hitter was sporting a new position upon her return (libero). Although she was clearly not 100% physically during the tournament, it was clear that having her on the floor was a huge boost for the Stanley Blue Jays. Iverson would have been a virtual lock to receive every kind of individual honor if she was 100%, but she was able to help the Blue Jays earn the most important award playing on one leg.
The Blue Jay coaching staff was quick to point out the intangibles that Iverson brings to the table. “Abby brought the experience and leadership back,” said Blue Jay head coach Bobbi Johnson.
Secondly, the emergence of Jossi Meyer. Meyer entered the district tournament as a player who had shown flashes of potential. The potential was realized during the tournament and Meyer left everyone believing that she is one of the top players in the region. She terrorized hitters all tournament with her length and net presence. She also emerged as a legitimate hitter, giving the Blue Jays a formidable complement to Hayley Schmidt. Bad news for opponents, Meyer is only a sophomore.
Thirdly, the emergence of the rest of the Blue Jays. The usual suspects for the Blue Jays stepped up big time in the tournament but it was really the depth players that propelled Stanley to the title. The Blue Jays had been marred by inconsistent play and growing pains (common with a young group) throughout the entire regular season. They were anything but inconsistent in the tournament, top to bottom they played excellent. The coaching staff deserves a ton of credit for the improvement of this young group.
Now to the championship game. The Blue Jays had to be at their best to beat #1 seeded Kenmare on Tuesday. It would be no different in the championship game against the #2 seeded Powers Lake Ranchers.
The game featured the most feared hitter in the region in senior Sydney Titus against the most feared blockers in region (Jossi Meyer and company). The first round went to the Blue Jays thanks in part to another secret weapon, their service game.
The Ranchers jumped out to an early 10-6 lead before Hayley Schmidt ripped 3 aces to start a 6-0 Blue Jay run. Alyssa Ruden would add a couple more aces shortly after to give the Blue Jays a 17-12 lead. Schmidt and Meyer would team up for five kills to close out the first set 25-18.
That trend would continue in the second set with the Blue Jays winning 25-22.
Sydney Titus started to get into a groove in the third set. The Powers Lake senior standout ripped off a handful of gymnasium rattling kills to keep the third set tight early on.
The Blue Jays would start to pull away late in the set thanks to a trio of kills from the freshman duo Leevi Meyer and Raygen Lee. The Blue Jays would eventually prevail 25-19 in the final set, and the celebration was on.
Taylor Dean and Jasmyn Giese combined for 31 assists in the game to help guide the Blue Jay attack.
Daphne Enander and Abby Iverson combined for 37 digs to pace the Blue Jay defense.
Confidence was key for the Blue Jays, something they will look to maintain in the regional tournament. “The biggest difference that I saw in them this week is they have gone from playing tentative to playing with confidence,” said Blue Jay head coach Bobbi Johnson. “They are trusting each other and playing with a purpose.”
The Blue Jays will face Parshall in the opening round of the Region 8 Tournament.
Set Scores: Stanley 25-18, Stanley 25-22, Stanley 25-19
Kills: Jossi Meyer 10, Hayley Schmidt 8, Alyssa Ruden 7, L. Meyer 6, Daphne Enander 4, Abby Iverson 2, Raygen Lee 1, Jasmyn Giese 1
Blocks: Jossi Meyer 4, Raygen Lee 1, Leevi Meyer 1, Alyssa Ruden 1
Aces: Hayley Schmidt 4, Alyssa Ruden 4, Raygen Lee 1, Leevi Meyer 1, Daphne Enander 1, Alyssa Ruden 1
Assists: Taylor Dean 16, Jasmyn Giese 15, Hayley Schmidt 1
Digs: Daphne Endander 19, Abby Iverson 18, Hayley Schmidt 11, Jasmyn Giese 8, Taylor Dean 3, Raygen Lee 1, Jossi Meyer 1, Alyssa Ruden 1
Powers Lake Stats
Kills: Sydney Titus 12, Hanna Grub 3, Sadie Maruskie 2, Keilani Rystedt 2, Maddy Fraunfelter 2
Blocks: Sydney Titus 4, Sadie Maruskie 1
Aces: Sadie Maruskie 1, Hanna Grubb 1
Assists: Sadie Maruskie 12, Sydney Titus 7
Digs: Jessica Rosencrans 17, Maddy Fraunfelter 11, Hanna Grubb 11
*Ian Grande is the Editor of the Stanley Gazette. If you have any comments or concerns please email StanleyGazette@gmail.com