The Bronson Vikings earned their third consecutive Class C Regional championship Thursday at Watervliet High School, winning in five sets over the Schoolcraft Eagles, 21-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-17, 15-5. The top-ranked Vikings’ push for a third straight state title continues, ending Schoolcraft’s season in the Regional final for the second time in three years.
The match started tight from the very beginning, seeing five lead changes in the first part of set #1. Schoolcraft got the lead for good with their 14th point for a 25-21 win. Bronson battled back and never trailed the second set, taking it 25-19. The Eagles had the first point of the third, but trailed for almost the entirety of the set. Schoolcraft was able to erase a five-point hole and reclaim the lead on their 20th point, narrowly staying ahead for the 25-23 win.
Schoolcraft carried the momentum to a 7-4 start to the fourth set, but the lead was short lived and the Vikings took control for a 25-17 fourth set win. In the decisive fifth set, Ashton Wronikowski was dominant for Bronson. All match, she was lethal off short sets by Kiana Mayer, tallying 15 kills in the first four sets. In the fifth, Wronikowski grabbed five kills, including the final two of the match, punching Bronson’s ticket to the Elite Eight.
Along with Wronikowski’s 20, Jolie Smoker had 12 kills unofficially and Keona Salesman had 10. Kiera Lasky added five aces, putting top-ranked Bronson at 56-9-2 overall. Fourth-ranked Schoolcraft finishes at 37-14-2, led by 15 kills from Andelyn Simkins. Senior Paige Gebben added eight in her final match, she and Brooke Crissman graduate for the Eagles.
It will be #1 vs #2 from the final coaches poll in the quarterfinal, as Bronson meets second-ranked Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central Tuesday at 7 p.m. from Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo.
Listen back to Thursday’s Regional final below:
The Schoolcraft Eagles and Bronson Vikings won their Class C Regional Semifinal volleyball matches Tuesday at Watervliet, both winning in three sets. Schoolcraft topped conference foe Kalamazoo Christian 25-15, 27-25, 25-15, and Bronson rolled Brandywine 25-7, 25-9, 25-18.
The Eagles and Vikings, ranked fourth and first in the final Coaches Association poll, will now meet for the second time in three years in the Regional Final Thursday at 7 p.m. and that match can be heard live online via the Slocum Sports Network.
In the first semifinal, Schoolcraft dominated the first set from the very start. Kalamazoo Christian battled hard in the second set and led for a decent chunk. The set had four lead changes and never saw either team lead by more than three. The Comets had multiple set-point chances with a 24-21 lead, but the Eagles survived for the 27-25 win. Kalamazoo Christian grabbed a quick lead in the third, but it didn’t last and Schoolcraft was able to pull away for good.
Unofficially, Schoolcraft sophomore outside hitter Andelyn Simkins led the squad with 18 kills, followed by 11 from senior Paige Gebben. The Comets had five from sophomore Carley Broekhuizen and senior Tara Razenberg. She graduates, along with Mackenzie Wallace and Madelyn Batts with a final 2017 record of 28-17-4. The Eagles move to 37-13-2.
The second semifinal was never in doubt with the two-time defending state champions dominating the entire way. Brandywine had the first two points of the match, but quickly saw that lead turn into an 18-point hole. The Bobcats showed some fight in the third set, but Bronson was too much to handle.
Unofficially, Bronson sophomore Keona Salesman had 15 kills. Miss Volleyball candidate Kiana Mayer added six aces, pushing the Vikings to 55-9-2 on the season. Brandywine senior Grace Polomcak had five kills in her final match. The Bobcats finish 36-8-4 according to Maxpreps and also graduate Lauren Srmek and Melanie Martinez.
Bronson and Schoolcraft are now set for the Regional Final Thursday at 7 p.m. and that match can be heard live online via the Slocum Sports Network. When they met in the 2015 Regional Final, Bronson won 25-17, 25-23, 26-28, 25-22. The Vikings look to continue their path to a three-peat, while Schoolcraft hopes for their first quarterfinal appearance since 2013.
Listen back to Tuesday’s semifinals below:
SCHOOLCRAFT VS KALAMAZOO CHRISTIAN
BRONSON VS BRANDYWINE
Listen live online Tuesday and Thursday on the Slocum Sports Network to the MHSAA Regional #17 volleyball tournament from Watervliet High School. The first semifinal Tuesday at 6 p.m. features the Schoolcraft Eagles versus the Kalamazoo Christian Comets. The second to follow around 7:45 p.m. has the defending Class C state champion Bronson Vikings against the Brandywine Bobcats. The winners meet Thursday at 7 p.m.
Schoolcraft enters at 36-13-2 on the season, coming off a four-set district final win over Constantine, who hosted the final and held a 37-8-6 mark. Schoolcraft also swept White Pigeon and Decatur in the earlier district matches. The Eagles were ranked fourth-best in the final Class C Coaches Association poll and ranked 12th in the final poll from Michigan High School Volleyball Insider.
It’s Schoolcraft’s fifth time in the Regional round in six years with their deepest run in that stretch a state-runner up in 2014. In their last Regional appearance in 2015, they defeated Kalamazoo Christian in the semifinal and lost to Bronson in the final. The Eagles have been state champion once before, in 2008.
Kalamazoo Christian (record currently unavailable) enters ranked 21st in the Insider poll. The Comets won over Bloomingdale (3), Galesburg-Augusta (4), and Bangor (3) to claim their district. It’s their third straight trip to the Regional round with K-Christian falling in the semifinals to Bronson in 2016 and Schoolcraft in 2015.
The Comets haven’t been Regional champions since their quarterfinal run in 2007. Their most recent Regional final trip was 2012, where they were eliminated by Schoolcraft. Kalamazoo Christian fell twice to Schoolcraft this season, in four sets back in September and 2-0 in the SAC tournament in late October.
Bronson is the two-time defending Class C state champions and holds the #1 ranking in both the Coaches and Insider polls. The Vikings enter the Regional tournament at 54-9-2 with all of their losses coming to Class A and Class B schools. They rolled through Reading, Centreville, and Mendon in their district contests.
Bronson eliminated Kalamazoo Christian last season and Schoolcraft two years ago, although they have no recent meetings on record with Brandywine. Vikings head coach Jean LaClair is a three-time champion with Bronson, also taking the Class C title in 2009.
Brandywine enters at 36-7-4 according to Maxpreps and were ranked 25th in the final Insider poll. They defeated Cassopolis in three and Bridgman in four to claim the district title. The Bobcats are into the Regional round for the first time since 2014, where they were eliminated by Schoolcraft in the semifinal. Their last trip out of the Regional tournament was their 2003 state semifinal run.
Listen live to the Regional tournament online on the Slocum Sports Network Tuesday and Thursday from Watervliet High School. The action begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. with Schoolcraft against Kalamazoo Christian, followed by Bronson and Brandywine around 7:45. The Regional championship is Thursday at 7 p.m.