HOLTONHolton suffered from a case of nerves to start Monday night’s MHSAA Division 3 district quarterfinal match against Mason County Central and trailed 11-1 in the first set.

But the Red Devils quickly recovered, overcame that deficit and rolled on to a 3-0 victory over Mason County Central, 25-19, 25-15, 25-13 at Holton.

“We started off a little slow,” Red Devils head coach Austin Bectel said, “which was to be expected. I think nerves got the best of us in that first set.

“But, we ended up pulling it back. It was exciting to see our girls show up after an 11-1 deficit. Overall, it was a great night after we cleaned up that first set.

“It was a little nerve racking just to see 11-1 up on the scoreboard. We’ve played Mason County in the past, and it was a good game as well. Just to see 11-1 kind of freaked me out, and freaked the girls out a little bit. It was exciting to see us pull it out.”

On the hitting side of the ball the Red Devils were led by middle hitter senior Layna Cartwright, senior Gianna Reed each with nine kills, sophomore Ryann Robins with seven kills and sophomore setter Abbie Fowler, who had five kills.

Fowler contributed 25 assists on the night, and she also had a great floor game on defense with 12 digs. The defensive leader was junior Katie Petersen.

Jessica Gerbers was at the service line for Mason County Central when the Spartans jumped out to the big 10-point lead. But then things went south.

“Our small errors, and difficulty reading the ball gave the Red Devils an advantage over us,” O’Harra said. “They were finding our holes, and we were having some problems digging them up.

“It’s sad to have our season end, but I’m excited to move forward, take what we have learned this year and build.”

Stand outs for the Spartans included Tori Dunblazier who was 32-of-36 in attacks with nine kills. Gerbers finished 18-of-18 in serves, 8-of-13 in digs and 21-of-23 in serve receptions.

Also having a good game for the Spartans were Adria Quigley who was 9-of-10 in attacks with two kills, 8-of-9 serving with one ace, 3-of-8 in digs and 2-of-3 in serve receive.Charlie Banks finished 13-of-17 in attacks with four kills, 3-of-3 serving, 5-of-8 in digs and 5-of-6 in serve receive. Alayna Rafter was 11-of-13 in attacks. Wren Nelson was 11-of-13 in attacks with three kills, 1-of-1 setting, 2-of-2 in digs and 1-of-3 in blocks.

The Red Devils improved to 13-16 on the season and will face Hesperia in the district semifinal Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Shelby and Hart play in the first match of the doubleheader at 5:30 p.m.

“I feel that our key to moving on is definitely our defensive side of the ball,” Bectel said. “I’m starting to see a good improvement in our offense, but Hesperia has some good hitters.

“Ultimately, if we make it through Hesperia, Shelby and Hart have good hitters as well. I think putting a good block up, and securing our defense on our side of the ball will help us be successful.”