By Noah Genson

NORTON  SHORES  – Winning has become less frequent for the Mona Shores volleyball team over the past few years.

New head coach Kathy Hellman is determined to change that narrative for the Sailors, who experienced two straight losing seasons in 2017 and 2018.

If Thursday’s outcome was any indication, Hellman and the Sailors are headed in the right direction. After dropping the first set to conference rival Reeths-Puffer, Mona Shores rallied to win three straight sets and beat the Rockets 3-1 in front of a big crowd on its home court.

The Sailors are now 10-8 overall on the season and 2-0 in conference play.

“These girls don’t know how good they can be,” Hellman said after the match. “When you’re not used to winning your confidence can be down. I think stringing together some wins will certainly help that.”

The Rockets dominated the first set, jumping out to a quick 15-5 lead.  The Sailors fought back and pulled within two points, 19-17, but Reeths-Puffer was able to hold on for a 25-19 win.

“I think the nerves got to us a bit,” Hellmann said about the slow start. “This was one of the biggest home crowds our girls have played in front of, and I think it just took them a minute to settle in.”

Mona Shores pulled it together quickly, easily winning the second set 25-18 to even the match at 1-1.

It was much closer in the third set, when the lead changed hands three times and neither team led by more than four points. But thanks to Bri Wade’s five kills in the set, the Sailors were able to win 25-21 and take a 2-1 lead.

The fourth and final set was very close, and the teams were tied at 19-19. But service runs from Riley Rosenthal and Wade helped push the Sailors over the top to claim the set 25-21 and seal up the match.

Rosenthal led Mona Shores with 15 kills, followed by Brooke LeRoux with 12 .LeRoux also had four service aces. Grace Norris and Megan DeLong set up the offense with 23 and 16 assists, respectively.

Hellman also credited Suriya Vanderoord for her leadership on the court.

“Suriya is my go to,” the coach said. “I coached her as a freshman and she’s the only three-year varsity player. She’s just able to stay so calm and so poised on the court at all times. It really gives a calming feel to everybody when she’s out there.”

The Rockets fell to 1-6 on the season, but head coach Alex Rykse remained upbeat after the loss.

“We kind of put it all together in that first set and that’s what I’m hoping we can see from them moving forward,” Rykse said. “Just some little things here and there to tighten up.”

The Rockets were led by Lindsey Ruiter and Brianna Stawski with 12 and 11 kills, respectively.