Holly — It’s been years, perhaps more than a decade, since the Holly varsity volleyball team has defeated the Fenton Tigers.
That was the case until Monday.
The Bronchos were aggressive throughout the match and defeated their area rivals 25-20, 25-17, 25-13 at Holly High School.
The Bronchos were excited about the victory.
“This means a lot because Fenton has been our rivals for a long time and we’ve been trying to beat them since I was a freshman,” junior Nicole Jewell said. “We’ve come close the past few years and it’s been so tough losing to them every year. And now to get this one gives us a rise.”
The Bronchos are on the rise. They also won a weekend tournament at Mt. Morris, defeating Brighton twice during the event — once in round robin play and once in the championship match.
“This win is very important,” Holly varsity volleyball coach Deena Maher said. “It’s something we’ve been fighting for for years, and it’s something that’s alluded me since I’ve been here. I’m very excited for the team and the girls. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
As big of a step the victory was for Holly, it was a tough night for the Tigers. Losing wasn’t probably the biggest concern. It was how the team struggled in every phase of the game.
“Everything was just off,” Fenton varsity volleyball coach Meghan Polce said. “The whole team was completely off. There was not one player who didn’t struggle. My defense definitely fought, but we just couldn’t get in a groove today.”
The Tigers’ issues started very early as Holly jumped to a 5-0 lead with three Fenton errors helping that happen. Holly did get a kill by Jewell to start the match, and Kennedy Hogan added a block kill during the run, aiding the early lead.
Fenton fought right back. Trailing 7-2, the Tigers got two aces from Sydney Acho and a block kill from Lydia Podlesak, helping cut the gap to 7-6.
The Holly lead was still only 11-10 after a Sydney Sahr ace, but that was followed by a service error and then three straight service points by Holly’s Sarah Jewell. Fenton struggled with its service reception against Jewell’s strong service, aiding all three points, while giving Holly a 15-10 lead.
Fenton fought back to 21-20 on another Acho ace late, but a kills by Nicole Jewell followed by back-to-back overpass kills by Marissa Walker and another overpass kill by Sarah Jewell locked up the 25-20 Holly first-set victory.
After the first set, the Bronchos dominated action. Fenton was as close as 17-15 late in the second set, but a kill by Nicole Jewell upped the gap to 18-15 and gave Sarah Jewell the service again. Just as she did in the first set, she provided a strong service, sparking five straight Holly points. Holly led 23-15 and eventually won the set.
Fenton was tied 2-2 in the third set, but Holly took the lead with eight straight service points by Delaney Jenkinson. During that run, she had an ace and Nicole Jewell, Sarah Jewell and Marissa Walker had kills. Holly led 9-2 when the run ended with a kill by Fenton’s Katelyn Beverly. Holly kept control of the game with Nicole Jewell collecting three kills late in the contest.
“We have a lot of energy,” Nicole Jewell said. “We all want to be here and everyone is willing to give it 100 percent. Everyone is having a lot of fun.”
Holly dominated offensively, collecting 31 attack kills to Fenton’s nine. Fenton did have five block kills to Holly’s three.
Nicole Jewell led Holly with 10 kills while Sarah Jewell had eight. Paige Weeder had seven kills. Sydnie Meszler had 19 assists while Nicole Jewell had nine assists.
Sarah Jewell led Holly’s defense with 14 digs while Weeder had 12.
Fenton’s top hitter was Podlesak with four kills. Sydney Sahr had two block kills.
“We struggled everywhere and the girls realized it and were frustrated,” Polce said. “I know tomorrow in practice it’s going to be a whole new team.”
Holly hosts Flushing for a key Metro battle on Thursday while Fenton hosts Kearsley on that same date.