Prep volleyball: Emeralds are looking up

MANISTIQUE – With two meets under their belts, the Manistique Emeralds feel they have a pretty good read on things at this point in the volleyball season.

The Emeralds placed third in their pool in Saturday’s Munising Invitational before falling in four sets in a dual meet at Escanaba on Monday.

“After Monday, we realized what we need to focus on,” said coach Amy Nixon. “We need to keep our intensity throughout the match. One thing we were pleased with is we improved our serving percentage from Saturday. There are a lot of positives we can take from Monday. I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

The Emeralds resume tonight in Ishpeming.

“Ishpeming has quite a few returners,” said Nixon. “We expect them to be better than last year. We’ll need to focus on our blocking and defense.”

Junior outside hitter Maggie Morrison, at 5-foot-9, is Manistique’s lone returning starter.

“We’re looking for Maggie to score points,” said Nixon. “We need her to lead by example.”

Providing help on the outside are junior Hailey Hoholik and senior Elisa MacGregor.

“Hailey is getting to some balls,” said Nixon. “She had five kills on Monday and we’re looking for her to get some more. She has good ball placement.”

Anchoring the middle are senior Leah Cook and sophomores Lexi Carlson (6-0) and Michaela Hinkson (5-9).

“Leah’s serves are real tough,” said Nixon. “We’re looking for her to score from behind the line this year. We’re looking for Lexi to get some blocks. Michaela is also strong at the net, but she’ll also be a utility player.”

Serving as setters in Manistique’s 6-2 offense are senior Vanessa McNamara and sophomore Sydney Chartier.

“Vanessa is one of our captains and a vocal leader,” said Nixon. “She provides direction on the floor. Sydney has performed above my expectations. She has improved her skills. I think she’ll be a major contributor for our team.”

Senior Morgan Kangas has moved from outside hitter to libero this year, with senior Breanna Bosanic providing help on the right side.

“We’re looking for Morgan to make defensive plays and be the leader of the back row, and get some points out of Breanna (a left-handed hitter) ” said Nixon.

Within the Mid-Peninsula Conference, Nixon points to Gwinn and Iron Mountain as the teams to beat.

“Gwinn looked very good at the tournament,” she said. “They have some good returners and Iron Mountain always has a strong team.”