NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo varsity volleyball team won its Aug. 26 opener with a three-game sweep of visiting Berrien Springs.

Coach Kevin Labaj said the Bison have strong veterans, talented freshmen and a good bench heading into the 2019 season.

“I feel very confident about retaining our (BCS Conference) title from last year and I can see us going very far in districts.”

The Bison jumped out to a commanding 11-1 lead in the first contest as Sophia DeOliveira had two kills and three ace serves, while Allie Smith lobbed the ball through the Shamrock defense.

An ace from Kylee Smith helped Berrien Springs close within eight (13-5) before New Buffalo used a Kelsey Corkran ace, Ava Mullen’s block, a tip by Mary Mayer and DeOliveira’s kill to build a 22-8 advantage. The Bison went on to prevail 25-13.

New Buffalo took an early lead again in game two, building a 9-4 margin as Corkran had three kills, while DeOliveira and Mullen also spiked the volleyball to the gym floor.

A tip by Olivia Elliott and kills by Zoe Dortch, Emily Knight and Smith helped the Shamrocks pull within two points (15-13), but a pair of kills by DeOliveira, a block from Mayer and Allie Smith’s strong play at the net helped forge a 21-15 lead and Corkeean’s game-ending spike the floor capped off a 25-21 win.

Corkan, a freshman, said her first varsity match was “so much fun.”

“I thought we played really well. We had a couple mistakes here and there, serves could have been a little better … I think overall we did really well.”

Mayer aced the first three serves of the third contest, but Berrien Springs bounced back to pull even at 9-9 as Gabriella Cuthbert and Zariya Suggs came through with kills.

The Bison answered with kills by Corkran and DeOliveira followed by another Mayer ace to lead 15-11. New Buffalo went on to claim a 25-17 victory to take the match, with Haley Feeback acing a serve and Mullen spiking down two crucial kills including the game-ender.

“We were all nervous, but we kind of all stuck together … our chemistry’s there,” Mayer said.

Statistical leaders for the Bison included: DeOliveira (4 aces 9 kills 5 digs); Corkran (3 aces 13 kills 7 digs); and Mayer (5 aces 24 assists).

River Valley

CASSOPOLIS —The Mustang varsity volleybal team opened the season at the Tracy Baker Memorial Tournament in Cassopolis on Aug. 24.

River Valley playes Eau Claire (25-12, 25-8 wins); the host Rangers (14-25, 17-25 losses); Marcellus (21-25, 25-21, 6-15) and Michigan Lutheran (18-25, 25-22, 13-15).

The Titans went on to top Cassopolis in the title match.

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