Prep volleyball: Gwinn rallies from slow start to sweep Iron Mountain

GWINN – Falling behind 9-3 in the opening minutes of the first game, the Gwinn High School girls volleyball team appeared to be in for a rough night Thursday against visiting Iron Mountain.

“Every game we play, we seem to have a slow start,” GHS head coach Stephanie Bahrman said. “We start timid and it takes a while for the girls to get in the groove.

“Once we do and start swinging better, we get back into it.”

The Modeltowners (2-0 overall and in the Mid-Peninsula Conference) did just that, outscoring the Mountaineers 72-39 the rest of the way to take a three-set, 25-17, 25-15, 25-16, triumph.

Katie Aho, Bella Wedig and Shelby Talsma led the way. Aho recorded three kills and seven aces; Wedig seven kills and an ace; and Talsma six kills and two aces.

Teammate Kaylee Arnsparger collected 14 assists and Ashley Childs turned in 12 digs.

“It’s always tough coming to Gwinn,” IM head coach Jeanne Newberry said. “They have good jumpers, their setters have good hands and Stephanie always puts together a strong team.”

The Mountaineers struck early, however, taking the six-point lead with aces from Kristen Gendron and Marti Pirkola.

“We just moved well,” Newberry said. “Our feet were moving and we were in a good defensive mode.

“But then frustration set in when it got to 10-10. We got caught on our heels then.”

Wedig paced the comeback with three kills, while Talsma recorded two kills and an ace. Gwinn then pulled away behind three aces from Aho.

“Katie’s a tough and consistent server,” Bahrman said. “She has been working on her serve for a while.

“And Talsma can hit spots with her shots. She’s very dependable on her swings.”

Said Newberry: “We played deep instead of short (on GHS serves). We got locked into our zone defense.”

Gwinn led from the get-go in the second game, though IM (1-4, 1-2) closed the gap to 17-13. But Chelsea Moton produced a kill and Aho then posted three unanswered aces to give the Modeltowners a comfortable 21-13 advantage.

“The girls were swinging away,” Bahrman said. “I push the girls to be aggressive and they were getting their feet in place to hit the ball.”

Game 3 was nearly a carbon copy of the second. Gwinn jumped out early for a 7-3 lead and after IM made a modest comeback to get to within a point at 8-7, the Modeltowners put the pedal to the metal to win going away.

Tori Lauren posted a kill and added two blocks for points for GHS, while Ellie Olsen, Ashley Childs and Aho all chipped in an ace.

“We communicated well in that game,” Bahrman said, “and I put in some non-starters who moved their feet.”

Pirkola paced the Mountaineers with two kills, three aces and three blocks, while Alena Herman collected three kills and an ace.

Bri Geyser and Herman contributed five assists apiece; Cassie Feira turned in five digs.

“We hit the ball well,” Newberry said. “When we got open shots, we hit them. The girls were following through on their swings.”