The St. James volleyball team has run the gauntlet over the last week. On Saturday, they played in the St. Clair Tournament, where a long day got even longer with an injury. St. James went 1-4 in the tournament. They bounced back with a two set win over Belle on Monday, before losing a tough match to Union in three sets on Paint It Pink Night.
The Lady Tigers were already shorthanded when they started the St. Clair Tournament on Saturday. Their JV players were not able to play in the tournament, because they had already reached their tournament limit for the season. As a result, St. James started the day with just seven players. That number would drop down to six by the end of the day.
St. James started the day in pool play. The format of the tournament saw St. James play two sets against their first opponent, Pacific, before playing three against the remaining two. The Lady Tigers fell to Pacific 14-25, 17-25. St. James then faced off against Grandview, losing 14-25, 15-25, 17-25. They rounded out pool play against Orchard Farms, falling 18-25, 11-25, 14-25.
The Lady Tigers then played Cuba after pool play. They were the two bottom seeds from pool play, so the two faced off to see who would play the number one seed, St. Clair. The Lady Tigers won the match in straight sets 25-18, 25-12. St. James then came out firing on all cylinders against St. Clair, winning the first set 25-20. The Lady Tigers then lost Raina Forstrom to an ankle injury in the second set. St. James was a bit thrown after the injury, as they had just six players left, and they lost the final two sets 12-25, 16-26.
Mackenna Rodgers led St. James with 36 assists, while adding nine aces, eight kills, 18 digs, 2 solo blocks and four assist blocks. Hannah Marcee had 16 kills, while adding 12 solo blocks, two assist blocks, 12 digs, three aces and three assists. Forstrom had 11 kills, 11 digs, eight solo blocks and six assist blocks. Makayla Case led the team in hitting with 17 kills to go along with 12 digs, two aces, a solo block and five assist blocks. Courtney Cale added eight aces, 11 digs and two kills, while Camille Bullock added four kills, two aces and 17 digs. Katlyn Branstetter chipped in with another 15 digs.
St. James then had to make some lineup adjustments, before facing off against Belle on Monday, but they had their JV players back in the rotation. The Lady Tigers had two hard-fought sets on their way to a sweep 25-19, 25-21. The JV also won on the night 25-16, 25-17.
Rodgers led the team in assists, while matching the team-high in kills and aces. She had 12 assists to go along with six kills, three aces and four digs. Case matched her in kills with six. Shelby Marcee had three aces, three kills, two assists and a solo block. Bullock also added three aces, three kills and three digs. Caily Sanders added two aces, six assists, five digs and a kill. H. Marcee added another four kills and four digs.
"Once again we changed up our rotations. Raina Forstrom went down with an ankle injury on Saturday at the St. Clair tournament. She will be out for a while. This opened up the door for some of the other JV players to get some varsity time," said head coach Julie Guese. "Caily Sanders came in and shared setting duties with Mackenna Rodgers. Rodgers was then able to hit on the outside. Both Sanders and Rodgers did a fine job. Shelby Marcee, also up from JV, is filling in as a middle hitter. She contributed quite a bit this evening...I was very proud of the girls for helping each other out on the court and being open to the new rotations with positive attitudes."
St. James then faced off against Union for their Paint It Pink Night on Tuesday. The first set was a battle throughout. Neither team was able to lead by more than two points for most of the match. St. James was finally able to take a small lead late in the set 22-19, before a Union timeout. The Lady Tigers came back from the the timeout and got an ace from Cale. Union scored a few points down the stretch, but never got closer than two points as St. James won the set 25-22.
The second set started like the first. St. James was able to take a small 9-6 lead early, before Union locked the match at nine. After that, Union took a lead that they would never surrender on their way to a 17-25 win to force a third set. Union controlled the final set, winning 12-25 to beat the Lady Tigers. The St. James JV lost in two sets 17-25, 20-25.
Marcee led the team in hitting with nine kills to go along with nine digs, two solo blocks and an assist block. Case added seven kills, two aces and four digs. Rodgers had 10 assists and a kill, while Sanders added five assists, seven digs and a kill. Bullock chipped in with another three kills, four digs and an assisted block.
"We've had quite the roller coaster ride the past few weeks, but the girls are showing their heart," said coach Guese. "They have been having really great attitudes and keep a fighting spirit. So many girls have had to step up and out of their comfort zones. I see so much good in how they are playing, and that keeps us all going."
The Lady Tigers will travel to New Haven on Thursday, before playing in the Linn Tournament on Saturday.