Nov 7, 2022
The Jets surround their coach Rachel Sondgerath om Friday at their home gym after winning the MHSAA Division 4 District 98 championship game against the Blue Bolts. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)
PAINSEDALE — For the second time in four years, the Jeffers Jets are Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Division 4 District 98 champions on the volleyball court. On Friday, the Jets swept the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Blue Bolts 3-0 with scores of 25-11, 25-13 and 25-20.
The last time the Jets won the district title was in 2019.
“It feels good,” said Jets’ coach Rachel Sondgerath. “The girls played hard and won it.”
A rowdy, packed Jeffers High School gym certainly helped the Jets’ cause as play got underway. While the Blue Bolts had their fair share of fans in the stands, the Blue Bolts are young and new to the post-season electricity.
The girls from DB-TC have more freshmen and sophomores on this year’s roster than juniors and seniors. Not only that but this was the Blue Bolts first time in a post-season championship game for volleyball for as long as anyone could recall.
The Jets’ Sara Johnson lines a serve during a Division 4 District 98 championship match Friday night at the Jeffers Gym. (Eddie O’Neill/Daily Mining Gazette)
“They were nervous; you could tell,” said first-year Blue Bolts’ coach Sara Audette. “We’ve never made it this far and these girls are young.”
Both teams came out swinging in the first set. They tied at four points apiece, but then Hanna Larson stepped up to the line for the Jets. She went on to post a run of seven to make in 11-4. While Nora Keranen for the Blue Bolts rang up three points at the service line to make it a 12-7 game, that is as close as Dollar Bay came to catching the Jets.
Jeffers’ senior Carli Wiitala sealed the win with her own run of seven to push the lead to 19-9 and an eventual set victory.
“The first set was our best,” said Sondgerath. “We came out strong and didn’t allow them to get into the game beyond those first few points.”
The second set looked a lot like the first. The Jets flew out to an 8-3 lead, and a strong service run by Sara Johnson made it 15-8.
Larson was back again at the line, and she post a run of five to make it 23-13. She led the Jets with 10 kills and six aces on the night.
According to Audette, the Blue Bolts’ best set was their third. However even that was too little too late.
“We moved our feet and the ball better in the third but we just had too many errors and couldn’t put together any strong service runs,” she said.
Audette added that she hopes her young team can build on this successful wining season.
“I could not have asked for a better group of girls,” she said. “They worked so hard all season, and they only want to get better.”
Up next
With the district win, the Jets head to a regional semifinal game against Ironwood on Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Baraga High School.
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