Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

November 13, 2013

Bellaire, Leland score wins to reach regional finals

BUCKLEY — First times all around.

For Bellaire, it the first time in school history the volleyball team has advanced to a regional final.

For Leland, it was the first look at an unusual defense that threw the Comets momentarily for a loop.

Next, the two will meet up Thursday in the Class D regional finals at Buckley.

Bellaire needed five games to dispose of AuGres, winning 20-25, 25-13, 20-25, 27-25, 15-10.

Down two games to one, Madalyn Balon recorded back-to-back aces to put the Eagles up 19-15 in the fourth game. The Wolverines made a little run, but a Renee LaLone stuff block gave Bellaire the momentum back and LaLone eventually closed out the 27-25 game with another block to force a decisive fifth.

"We struggled early with our serving," Bellaire coach Kelli Fischer said. "Our serving was on at the beginning of our season and it kind of started to fade. Then we picked it back up at districts."

Part of that was because Balon didn't serve much during the season because of a shoulder injury.

But on Tuesday, she recorded 10 aces to lead the way from the line, adding 20 assists. Gillian Nevarez added three aces and Brandy O'Neal two.

The Eagles won their district last year — also a volleyball program first — before falling to Leland in regionals.

"We lost to them, but it was hard-fought," Balon said. "We took them to four games. Hopefully, this year we'll get it."

Bellaire (13-15-5) had to get past Division 1 basketball recruit Cassidy Boensch first. The AuGres standout was 6-foot-2 as a freshman last year, is already drawing interest from Big Ten schools and looks even taller as a sophomore.

"I've never seen a girl that tall," Balon said. "We just had to get around her. She's only a sophomore? She'll be a threat later on."

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