Gielczyk: Mesick Looks to Stay in the Mix for West Michigan D League Title
Mesick’s volleyball team saw its undefeated streak in the Western Michigan D League come to an end Tuesday night with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Marion Eagles in Mesick.
The Bulldogs (6-2 overall, 6-1 in the WMD) lost the first two sets 23-25 and 20-25 before rallying to win the next two sets, 25-14 and 25-18 to set up a deciding fifth set. Marion prevailed, 15-11.
Grace Quiggin led the Bulldogs with 14 kills and she added four aces, three digs and two blocks. Madison Weinert contributed 11 assists, three digs and one ace. Kelsey Quiggin had 36 digs, seven aces and four kills. Trinity Harris had 18 digs, four kills and seven aces while Kaylee O’Neill finished with 24 digs.
It was the first of two major tests for the Bulldogs this week, as they travel to Pentwater on Thursday for a league showdown with the defending champion Falcons, who defeated Mason County Eastern (25-20, 25-15, 25-27, 25-9) to remain unbeaten in the conference at 7-0 while improving to 10-3 overall.
“I like our team,” Mesick coach Stacy Quiggin said. “They have a lot of cohesiveness, and get along really well. They’re working really great together. We hadn’t been challenged a whole lot yet in our conference.”
Five players who saw extensive time on the court returned this year. Those were seniors Weinert, Ezliabeth Hamilton, juniors Grace Quiggin, O’Neill and Harris.
Weinert is the Bulldogs’ primary setter, Hamilton lines up as an outside hitter, O’Neill handles the libero position and Harris is another outside hitter.
“Madison has really stepped up this year and improved quite a bit,” coach Quiggin said. “She hustles to the ball really well, and has improved her setting location accuracy.”
Grace Quiggin is the Bulldogs’ middle hitter, and is leading the team in kills and blocks. Her coach says she’s improved her passing and hitting skills, making her a more versatile player.
O’Neill’s passing accuracy has improved a lot, coach Quiggin says. She doesn’t always play in the back, because she wasn’t needed there against some of the teams Mesick played.
“I kind of save her in certain rotations for whoever is having trouble,” coach Quiggin said. “We don’t always have a lot of trouble, so she’s not playing all the time like she was last year. But, her passing accuracy has been spot on.”
The Bulldogs have a freshman middle, Kelsey Quiggin, who is gaining confidence and showing improvement. It helps that the team has embraced her presence, and gives her great support.
Another versatile player, Kelsey passes and sets well.
Mesick’s ability to stay positive and not get discouraged has never been put to the test this season like it will be now after suffering its first league loss and facing a talented Pentwater squad on the road.
“Our outside hitters are not super tall,” said coach Quiggin. “I think they’re both 5-4, 5-5. But, they hit hard and they can get up there and hit with the best of them.
“They are accurate. What they do get, they’re putting down hard. It’s kind of relentless. It doesn’t really matter where the set goes in the front. We’re making attacks pretty much all the time.”
Mesick also got off to a good start in the league last year, before losing to Marion and Pentwater.
After losing to the Eagles, the Bulldogs are hoping to change the scenario against the Falcons. They’d like to break Pentwater’s hold on the title.
Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for story ideas.