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Volleyball: Sault Ste. Marie beats Flivvs, 3-1

Kingsford's Kendra Nora (14) receives a serve while Rylee Papp (7) and line judge Nick Gayan look on Monday during a Class B District 64 volleyball opener in Kingsford. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

KINGSFORD — Sault Ste. Marie weathered a first-set loss and the absence of a front row starter to sink Kingsford 3-1 in a Class B District 64 volleyball opener Monday.

The Flivvers closed with a 5-1 spurt and took the first set 25-20. The shorthanded Blue Devils, missing outside hitter Valeta Gage to mono, claimed the next three sets by 25-15, 25-22 and 25-17.

“We had to do a lineup change, so that was a little nerve-wracking,” said Blue Devils coach Lisa Moran, receiving word Monday of Gage’s diagnosis. “We struggled moving our feet when passing. I think when we pass like we’re capable they didn’t return the ball. I’m very proud that we pulled through.”

Kingsford held a 20-16 lead in the third set until Kristen Laprade tallied three kills and Kelsie Sibbald added two to spark SSM.

A seven-point spree triggered SSM in the fourth set.

“My girls played really tough, they always do,” said Flivvers coach Kelly Bruns. “They did well on defense and blocking. We just had to pick it up here and there.”

A kill and ace from Kendra Nora followed by an Olivia Allen kill completed the first set for the Flivvers.

After a 225-mile casino bus ride to the match, SSM started the night slowly with a 7-1 deficit in a quiet Flivver gym.

“We couldn’t get our rallies going,” Moran said. “We were over-thinking the first couple games.”

Sault (27-5-2), Great Northern Conference and Straits Area Conference champion, defeated the Flivvers twice by 3-1 scores earlier in the season.

“Kudos to them,” Moran said of the Flivvers. “They played a lot scrappier than the last two times we played them.

“They hit a lot better. They were hitting the spots where we were just standing and watching.”

Laprade tallied a match-high 16 kills with four digs while Sibbald had seven kills with three blocks. Sophomores Julia Beaumont and Merryn McLean combined for nine kills.

“We had two sophomores trying to take the place of Val,” said Moran, referring to Beaumont and Faith Cryderman. “Julia really stepped up and filled that outside position.”

SSM’s Melina Robertson had 30 assists and six digs. Katja Wilhelms had 17 digs and Taylor Atkinson had six.

Sault Ste. Marie will host Menominee on Wednesday in a district semifinal. The other district semi sends Boyne City to Cheboygan. In other district openers Monday, Cheboygan defeated Escanaba 3-1 and Boyne City ousted Gladstone 3-1.

The Flivvers wrapped up Bruns’ first season as head coach with an 8-17-10 record. She noted improvement as the season progressed.

“We’ve changed out offense a little bit,” Bruns said of adjustments made during the campaign. “We started playing a lot of five game matches and the girls really fought hard.

“They played really well and I’m proud of them.”

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