2017-10-12 / Sports

Back in the race: USA defeats Cass City to move into first place tie in GTCW

By Mike Gallagher
Sports Reporter mgallagher@mihomepaper.com

The USA volleyball team shares a laugh as they celebrate a win over Ubly last week. 
Photo by Mike Gallagher The USA volleyball team shares a laugh as they celebrate a win over Ubly last week. Photo by Mike Gallagher CASS CITY - On September 14th, the USA volleyball team fell to Cass City in four sets. That victory gave the Red Hawks sole possession of first place in the Greater Thumb West Conference.

Last Thursday, the Patriots climbed back into the race, as they knocked off Cass City in five sets, 19-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-15, 15-9.

The loss was the first in conference for Cass City, a team that is ranked #5 in the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association.

“They seriously wanted it,” said Patriots head coach Teresa Rose. “We’re playing really good volleyball right now and they just wanted it.”

The win wasn’t easy for USA, as they fell into an early hole, dropping the first two sets, 25-19 and 26-24.

The third set proved to be the turning point for the match.

With the set tied 20-20, USA earned a little bit of breathing room, as they scored the next two points. The two squads would trade points, with Cass City getting as close as 24-23, but the Patriots clinched the set on a kill by Rylee Zimmer.

“I thought we played hard the first two games, but I saw an emotional change,” said Cass City head coach Amy Cuthrell. “We can play Class A teams all day long, but when we play USA you have to be emotionally engaged. The minute we got down we got conservative and you cannot be conservative against USA.”

USA took advantage of the Red Hawks getting conservative, as they raced out to 11-2 lead in the fourth set, before winning it, 25-15.

The fifth set was dominated by the Patriots, as they jumped out to a 6-1 lead and extended it to 12-3 before Cass City scored five straight points.

USA now sits at 24-10-3, with a 6-1 record in the GTC West.

Led by Zimmer, the Patriots have won 14 straight games, and 18 of their last 20.

“Rylee is a big part of that success,” said Rose. “She’s just a smart player and can see the other side, and knows where the holes are. I think the other girls want to play hard for her also.”

Zimmer recorded 44 kills, 16 assists, seven digs, and seven blocks against Cass City.

Katelyn Englehardt contributed 71 digs, and four aces, Nicole Schember had 48 assists, and Allyson Kemp delivered 15 kills.

“That ties us up going into the second half of the league,” said Rose after the victory. “Hopefully we’re starting to play really good volleyball in the end. Everybody contributed and it was good to see that.”

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