Bronson joins elite company with fourth straight volleyball title, beating USA for Division 3 crown
BATTLE CREEK — When Ashton Wronikowski was in fifth and sixth grade, she used to be a manager with Bronson High’s girls volleyball team.
Never in her wildest dreams could the current senior even have imagined which would take place just a few years later.
Bronson joined some elite company in MHSAA lore by capturing its fourth straight state title Saturday afternoon at Kellogg Arena, sweeping Unionville-Sebewaing, 3-0 — good for the school’s fifth state crown in a decade. This time the 25-19, 25-19, 25-23 victory came in the newly-created Division 3, while the other crowns came in Class C.
Only Marsville (Class B, 1997-2004); Battle Creek St. Phillip (twice in Class D, winter 2017-fall 2014, and again 1992-95); Portage Northern (Class A, 1992-95), Brimley (Upper Peninsula Class D, 1981-85); and Cedarville (Upper Peninsula Class D, 1992-97) have won at least four straight titles.
“If you told me that we would win (four straight) I would have called you a liar,” laughed Wronikowski. “I was the most uncoordinated kid and wasn’t very good. I never would have thought this.”
Today, the community of Bronson is living the dream — and its seniors have never tasted the postseason agony of defeat.
“(After last year) I had some people ask me ‘where are we going to put the picture next year?’ I told them how hard it is to win a state title,” said LaClair. “It is so hard to win. There’s so much that goes into it. You win one and so many people expect it. I don’t think they understand how difficult it really is (to win)."
After defeating top-ranked and fellow state powerhouse Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in the state semifinals in a five-game thriller, the Vikings (58-6-0) had to rally back in each game against USA.
Trailing 12-6 in the third set, Bronson coach Jean LaClair called time out. Senior Kiera Lasky gave a quick pep talk and helped righted the ship. Bronson eventually tied the game at 22-22 and closed with a 4-0 run.
“I won’t say what I I told them (in our huddle),” smiled Kiera Lasky. “I told coach that ‘I got this.’ We had a little talk.”
The experienced Vikings took over down the stretch in each set.
Keona Salesman finished with 19 kills on a 39-for-41 attacking performance. Jolie Smoker added 13 kills, Megan Lasky had 35 assists, Wronikowski contributed six kills and Kiera Lasky, a Miss Volleyball finalist, had 14 digs for Bronson’s well-oiled machine.
“This is quite an accomplishment winning four straight,” added LaClair. “I think the difference with this team is that they never get too excited. They remain calm and don’t let anything really get to them.”
Rylee Zimmer had 16 kills and 10 digs for Unionville-Sebewaing. Nichole Schember added 28 assists for the Patriots (26-5-4), who made the state finals for the first time after being ousted in the semifinals twice in the past decade.
“I’m proud of what this team was able to accomplish this season,” said USA coach Teresa Rose. “We lost to a very good team. They have been to the finals several times before and this was our first. I don’t think they played bad at all. They were a bit more experienced (of being here before).”