Escanaba Volleyball Rallies Past Bark River-Harris

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and listen to interviews with Escanaba's Mya Whitson, and Eskymo Coach Adam Lambert and Broncos Coach Jen Ives.

The Escanaba Eskymos lost the first games of their best-of-five volleyball match with the Bark River-Harris Broncos Tuesday night, but roared back to win three straight games to take a 3-2 victory before a large, loud crowd in Harris.

The scores were 18-25, 18-25, 25-15, 25-21, 15-11.

"We were down two sets, and it's very rare for a team to come back and win the next three," Escanaba Coach Adam Lambert said. "But this crowd was amazing. Bark River was putting on Facebook to fill up the stadium and they were doing contests and give-aways. It was pretty crowded in here, and anyone who's ever been to Bark River, you know it echoes like crazy."

Indeed, it was a tournament atmosphere for a match that was arranged only last week. There were boisterous student sections, in particular Escanaba's, which came dressed in white for a "white-out". The gym was loud all night, especially when Escanaba grabbed late momenum.

But early on, the Broncos were in control, with Alaska Peterson and Carley Varoni both going on long service runs. The Eskymos easily won the third set, but it looked like the Broncos would take the fourth game when they grabbed a 20-13 lead.

"We had five points. Five points to going home with that game, and we just couldn't pull it off," BR-H Coach Jen Ives said. "That's kind of what happens when momentum switches."

The Eskymos went on a 12-1 run to end that game with a win, despite two time outs called by Ives. The fifth game saw the Eskymos jump to a 6-2 lead, before the Broncos closed to within 13-11. Escanaba put it away with two straight points.

"I think Bark River started playing cautious," Lambert said. "They started just getting the ball over and gavve us opportunities to just kill, kill, and kill. We weren't going to let up, no matter what the score was. I was relieved as a coach. Coach Jen: when you started easing up on our girls, you gave us opportunities to score, Jen, and that's what we did."

"Our game plan was to come out and control the tempo and we were going to do that by putting the ball away," Ives said. "We didn't want them to set up their offense, because their middle hitter is a good player. In games one and two, we did that. We just hammered the ball. I don't know what happened in game three, we just kind of slowed down and our passes weren't as good. We gave Escanaba some good looks, and they capitalized on it."

Katelyn Stalboerger led the Eskymos with 18 kills. Mya Whitson added 13 kills.

Escanaba hosts its annual eight-team tournament this Saturday.

"We've got some great teams coming," Lambert said. "We're looking forward to what's coming. I hope this intensity lasted. This was kind of our mid-season lull, and we usually get just one game out of two weeks, so we filled it with Bark River, and I knew it would be a good game. I mean, Jen is a really good coach. She's really turned this program around."

As for BR-H, Ives said the experience of playing Escanaba will help in the long run.
"This was so good for us," Ives said. "We said, win or lose, that we wanted to kind of prove that Bark River-Harris voileyball is the real deal. We did that by coming up against a team like Escanaba.We want to play these big teams. We want the challenge."
The Broncos will soon take on another challenge, playing in a newly-scheduled triangular with Upper Peninsula powerhouses Marquette and Calumet.

Marquette 3, Gladstone 0
Negaunee 3, Manistique 1
Munising 3, Carney-Nadeau 0
North Dickinson 3, Rapid River 0
Stephenson 3, Mid Peninsula 0

LISTEN: Bark River-Harris Coach Jen Ives comments
LISTEN: Escanaba Coach Adam Lambert comments
LISTEN: Escanaba Mya Whitson comments