BRIGHTON — After receiving a boost of encouragement from the student body during a pep rally before its first home game, the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School girls varsity volleyball team came from behind to notch a win Sept. 14 in the school’s first-ever volleyball match on the Brighton campus.
Osceola Middle School proved to be a tough opponent for Pemayetv Emahakv as the Lady Seminoles trailed at times by large margins, but they still emerged with a 2-0 victory (25-19, 25-22).
“They were pretty good, but we made a couple of mistakes, then we picked it up and started focusing. I didn’t want to lose in the new gym,” said Julia Smith, an eighth-grader who started alongside Jacee Jumper, Janessa Nunez, Madisyn Osceola, Aubrey Pearce and Elle Thomas.
Before the first serve was launched, PECS principal Brian Greseth picked up a microphone at the scorers’ table and welcomed about 85 spectators who filled eight rows of gray bleachers across the court from team benches.
Fans have a prime view of the gym’s decor, which includes two banners that recognize the school’s undefeated 2014-15 volleyball team and 2012-13 girls basketball team. The banners include the players and coaches’ names and hang on a wall with ample space for future accomplishments.
“We’re trying to start a tradition with the banners,” Greseth said.
This year’s volleyball edition continued the winning tradition by upping its record to 3-0.
The match started at 4:34 p.m. PECS won the opening point on an Osceola Middle hitting error and took a 3-0 lead behind a pair of points from Elle’s serves. But the upbeat tone quickly changed as Osceola Middle won 10 of the next 11 points. Not only was PECS reeling on the scoreboard, but the Lady Seminoles also lost Aubrey to a hand injury that kept her on the sideline for the rest of the afternoon.
The gym’s first timeout came from PECS coach Kim Jackson with her team behind 14-4. The pep talk – as well as a kill by eighth-grader Alaina Sweat and an ace from Julia – helped shift momentum in PECS’ favor.
By the time Alaina finished cranking out four straight service points, the re-energized Lady Seminoles had regained the lead, 18-17. A pair of late aces from Elle helped clinch the game one victory for the hosts.
In game two, PECS again dug an early hole and trailed 10-4 and 17-9 before Madisyn and Alaina came to the rescue with a series of strong serves while defensive specialist Janessa controlled the back court.
Osceola Middle was three points away from winning the game, but Alaina erased a 22-20 deficit with five straight service points to seal a hard-earned shutout that took 43 minutes and plenty of determination.
“They showed a lot of heart,” Jackson said. “They fought really well. Getting down almost 10 points is very hard to come back from in volleyball. They showed a lot of resilience and I’m very proud of them.”
Alaina finished with a team-high five kills and five aces. Elle delivered three aces and one kill. Madisyn had two aces and one kill. Julia and Karey Gopher each notched one ace and one kill.
The early errors in both games didn’t make the players or coach panic.
“We made some mistakes that are easy to fix, so hopefully we’ll work on that part of our game be a lot more sound,” Jackson said.
PECS hit a rough patch in mid-September with consecutive losses to Yearling and West Glades, but the Lady Seminoles bounced back to beat Yearling 2-0 on Sept. 21. Jacee delivered five aces and four kills. Elle also had a solid serving performance with five aces, while Julia had three aces and two kills. Alaina notched three kills and one ace, and Madisyn provided two kills.
PECS opened its season Sept. 2 with a 2-0 win at Clewiston Middle. Elle led a balanced attack for the Lady Seminoles with seven aces and one kill. Jacee registered five aces and one kill. Alaina had three aces and two kills. Aubrey and Karey each served up two aces, while Madisyn delivered one ace and one kill. Janessa and Julia had one kill apiece, and Jenna Brown had one ace.
The following day Karey led the way to a 2-0 win against LaBelle with seven aces.
Madisyn contributed six aces and one kill. Julia notched four aces and three kills. Elle delivered two aces and Mariah Billie added one ace. Janessa and Alaina both had one kill. Jacee had one kill and one block.