A young Chelsea volleyball team was in a spot that they hadn’t been in very often this season when they faced Fowlerville in the Division 2 district opener in Perry Monday night.
The Bulldogs built big leads in two sets, but the Gladiators rallied each time to make things interesting, but Chelsea would slam the door each time as they swept Fowlerville 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 to move on to Wednesday’s district semifinal against Williamston.
“We have had a really rough season and being a young team, we weren’t used to being in those situations with the leads so we struggled closing them out,” Coach Erin Dillon said. “This is really good to show that they play with their heart and that is what they did to close it out.”
Chelsea does not have a senior on the squad this season with eight juniors, four sophomores, and a freshman.
Fowlerville, with six seniors, took control of the first set, but the Bulldogs would rally.
The Gladiators built a 17-13 lead with four straight points forcing a Chelsea timeout in the first set.
The lead would stand at 22-19, but Rachel Hein came up with a pair of huge kills to rally the Bulldogs to knot things up at 22.
The game was tied at 23 and after a Gladiator timeout, the Bulldogs scored the final two points, with Hein smacking down another kill on set point for the 25-23 win.
The Bulldogs came out strong in the second set taking a 16-11 lead. The lead would grow to 24-19, but Fowlerville scored four straight to make it 24-23 forcing a Bulldog timeout.
The Gladiators were called for bumping the net on set point and the Bulldogs pulled out the 25-23 win to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Freshman Kayla Munson had a big set with five kills for the Bulldogs.
Chelsea again started fast in the third set and a tip at the net by Kasey Matusik gave them a 10-6 lead forcing a Fowlerville timeout.
An ace by Emma Zocharski increased the Bulldogs lead to 18-12. The lead grew to 23-15, but again the Bulldogs struggled to close it out as Fowlerville scored four straight points to make it 23-19.
Dillon called a timeout out settle her team down and they finished the match on a service error by the Gladiators to take the final set 25-21.
The district is a different look for the Bulldogs this season and they were moved to the Lansing area for the first time and are the outsiders looking in. The other five teams are all from the Lansing area and have seen each other before this season. The Bulldogs have to drive 40 miles one way to Perry to take part in the district.
“We have not seen any of these teams this season,” Dillon said. “We did get to watch Perry a little. We will just try to prepare our team on our strengths and go out and play our best every time.”
Photo’s by Mike Williamson