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FA/M competitive, but can’t hang with Flyers

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    Marion senior Michele Schoenwald connects on one of 10 kills against Freeman Public last week. Schoenwald added eight digs for the Bearcats. PHOTO BY JEREMY WALTNER

A team that started slow but picked up momentum throughout the season came out hot in the first round of the Region 5B Volleyball Tournament in Emery last week and won the first set against a favored opponent.

But No. 6 Freeman Academy/ Marion couldn’t sustain the momentum against No. 3 Freeman Public and ended up on the losing side of a 3-1 match — the end to what is being considered a successful season for the second-year Bearcats cooperative.

“We finished over .500 and that was one of our goals,” said head coach Lindsey Unruh. “Most teams would say they lost games they shouldn’t have lost, and that’s certainly the case with us, but overall I feel good about the season.”

And she should.

The Bearcats started 1-3 and were 5-7 as they neared the midpoint of the season, but won nine of their last 11 to finish the regular season 16-11. The loss to Freeman Public in the first round of regions Tuesday, Oct. 31, took them to their final mark of 16-12.

Unruh gives a lot of credit to her seniors, whom she asked to own the leadership role she assigned them early on.

“They did that big-time, especially toward the end of the season,” she said. “They were pushing hard and bringing everybody else along with them.”

The quartet of seniors includes Annie Carlson, Rachel Miller, Amy Ptak and Michele Schoenwald, all of whom brought skill and a steady hand to the court, in addition to their leadership qualities.

They were the leaders most games,” Unruh says, citing Miller as the libero and defensive specialist, Carlson and Schoenwald as big hitters, Carlson as the team’s best blocker and Ptak as the setter and steady offensive force. “Their loss is going to leave a big hole. The other girls are going to have to step up, that’s for sure.”

As for FA/Marion’s region match against Freeman Public last week, Unruh says it was a case of good energy early on giving way to momentum that worked against the Bearcats. Match scores ended up in favor of Freeman Public 20-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-17.

“They had a lot of adrenalin in that first set,” Unruh said of her team. “After that, the adrenalin wore off and the nerves kicked in. We stopped hitting.”

Unruh also notes the strong play of the Flyers.

“Freeman played well,” she said. “Their defense is good; I know that’s been their focus. So credit to them.”

Bearcats fall in Region 5B tourney, but coach pleased with season