Bruins win twice at divisionals, advance to semis

By 
Ryan Peerboom — Enterprise Staff Writer
Friday, November 8, 2019
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Enterprise photos by Ryan Peerboom

Josie Thomas winds up to strike the ball agaist Granite on Thursday night at the Manhattan Christian Memorial Events center.

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Kyndra Long (6) strikes the ball against Charlo.

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Long (6) and Bailey Fuhrmann (7) jump at the net for a block.

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Veronika Macy eyes the ball as she hits it. 

The Gardiner Bruins got off to an ideal start on the first day of the MHSA Class C Western Divisional Tournament on Thursday at the Manhattan Christian Memorial Events Center in Churchill. The Bruins notched two sweeps in their first two games to advance into the semi-final round.

 

Vs. Charlo

The Bruins got the ball rolling in their first match against the Charlo Vikings with a convincing, three-set win, 25-15, 25-17, 25-16.

Gardiner set the tone from the start, jumping out to an early five point lead. The Bruins controlled the ball for most of the set to keep the Vikings on their heels and playing a defensive game. Gardiner kept a safe distance from the Vikings on the scoreboard and finished the set with a 10-point, 25-15 win. 

The Bruins started the second set in similar fashion to the first when they built an early lead and kept it for the remainder of the set. Charlo was able to pull within three, 14-11, before the bruins rattled off six points in a row to take a 20-11 advantage. Gardiner finished off the set and took a commanding 2-0 lead in the match. 

Set three was nearly a carbon copy of the first two. The Bruins jumped out to a quick lead once again and were on the attack for the majority of the set. Late in the set, Charlo whittled the Bruin lead to four, 10-16. The Bruins proceeded to score the last five points of the set, beating the Vikings 25-16 and advancing to the second round with a three-set sweep. 

Kyndra Long led the Bruin attack with six kills, and totaled four blocks on the defensive end. Chase Cunningham had all 21 Bruin assists and Lanie Powell had 13 total digs. 

The Bruins spread the ball around to all of their hitters, without developing a trend or allowing one person to carry the load. Bruins head coach Carmen Harbach said that’s something the team talked about doing in practice this week. 

“It was unpredictable who was going to get the ball, and whoever got the ball took care of it,” Harbach said. “I was proud of the team effort there. We talked about trying to be a little less predictable and run our plays,” 

Harbach mentioned the back row putting the Bruins in position to score.

“Give credit to the back row,” she said. “They got the ball up to the setter and then Chase (Cunningham) made good choices on where to put it and then our hitters took care of it”

Overall, Harbach said she was happy with the way the team started the tournament. 

“I’m really proud of them,” she said. “I thought they came out real focused and intense and intent on winning and I thought they did a very good job.”

 

Vs. Granite

Gardiner played the Granite Prospectors Thursday night after beating Charlo. Once again, the Bruins beat the Prospectors in short order, 25-13, 25-15, 25-19.

With a one-point lead in the first set, the Bruins went on an 8-0 run to take an early advantage, 14-5. The run was highlighted by strong serves from Long, who tallied three consecutive aces, forcing a Granite timeout. The Bruins rode the big lead to a 25-13 victory to give Gardiner a 1-0 lead in the match. 

In the second set, the Bruins jumped out to a 10-3 lead. The early run saw Long continue to serve strong and add two more aces to her stat line. Granite was able to climb back from the early deficit and close the gap to just one at 14-13. The Bruins finished strong on an 11-2 run to win the set 25-15 and take a 2-0 lead in the match.

The third set was tightly contested from the start. Both teams traded points and, with the score tied at 12, the Prospectors scored four straight to jump out to a 16-12 lead. Gardiner answered with a 6-0 run of their own to take the lead right back. After trading points again, the Bruins scored the final three points of the set to win 25-19 and take the match 3-0. 

Long stuffed the stat sheet against the Prospectors. She led the Bruins with 11 kills and had six aces from the service line. Defensively, she tallied 11 digs in the win. 

Cunningham had 33 of Gardiner’s 35 assists and tallied the B ruins’ lone block. 

Harbach noted that the team had some breakdowns in the second and third set that allowed the Prospectors to stay in the game.

“We had a couple lapses there,” she said. “Maybe serve-receive breakdowns and when we don’t serve-receive well, nothing seems to go for us.”

Despite the lapses, Harbach was happy with the way her team kept fighting. 

“They didn’t panic, they didn’t get flustered, they just kept working (and) kept digging and I was proud of them for that,” she said.

 

Up next

The Bruins find themselves in familiar territory. They face Manhattan Christian in the semi-final round at 5:30 p.m. tonight at the Manhattan Christian Memorial Events Center. 

 At districts last week, the Bruins played Manhattan Christian in the semis and lost in a tough, five-set match. The Bruins played the Eagles again in the district championship and lost in three sets. 

Harbach outlined what has to change for a different outcome this time around. 

“We hope to play our game,” she said. “We hope to play a solid game and stay unpredictable and just keep some pressure on and try to neutralize some of their big hitters.” 

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