A perfect balance

Alpena volleyball coach Melissa Doubek wasn’t kidding on Tuesday when she said Wednesday’s Alpena volleyball quad was very balanced: Alpena, Cheboygan and Onaway each won two matches and lost one. Each team also won six games and lost three. Tawas lost all three of their matches, losing nine games.

“I knew it was going to be balanced, so we came out strong against Onaway in the first match,” Doubek said.

It was the first time Alpena and Onaway had ever met beyond scrimmages.

Alpena won the first game 25-19. Players like Logan Myers and Taylor Genschaw pressured an Onaway defense that struggled to keep pace. Myers picked up 24 kills, 20 digs and 79 assists for the night, while Genschaw had 22 kills and 22 digs.

“Alpena is very good. They’re kind of the big area school around here. They play very strong defensively, which is something we also pride ourselves on,” Onaway coach Steve Watson said.

Onaway won both the second and third games of the match 25-18, with Mariah Ehrke and Devin Bristley taking charge offensively and defensively. Ehrke scored 41 kills, 49 digs and three aces for the night, Bristley had 20 kills, four aces and 25 digs.

The Cardinals then ran into some trouble against Cheboygan in the second round. Cheboygan had defeated Tawas 25-18, 25-18 and 25-8 in the first round. Onaway won the first game of the match 25-23, but Cheboygan won the next two games 25-21 and 25-18.

“We had a bit of an up and down day, especially against Cheboygan. We really wanted to win that match and we just couldn’t get it done. However, I think we had an excellent night overall,” Watson said.

Lexi Szymoniak, Sarah Fullerton and Taylor Ehrke helped keep Onaway in the Cheboygan match to the bitter end. Szymoniak picked up 11 kills, 30 digs and two aces for the night. Fullerton had 10 kills, two aces and 22 digs while Ehrke had six kills, 18 digs and 59 assists.

Alpena swept three games from Tawas, 25-13, 25-11 and 25-15. Tawas had strong play from Shayla Brink and Hannah Koroly, but it struggled against the hard-hitting offense and defense of Emma Strong, Jordan Modrzynski, Mikaela Overton and Isabelle O’Neil.

Strong had 16 kills and 10 blocks. Modrzynski had 19 kills and nine blocks, while O’Neil and Overton had 17 and 11 digs, respectively.

Onaway then faced Tawas in the last round, making short work of the Braves in the first two games, winning 25-11 and 25-8. However, Tawas made the Cardinals work for the 25-22 third win, coming the closest it would see to a victory all night.

The Wildcats made it look easy against Cheboygan in the first two games, 25-14 and 25-20.

Alpena dropped the third game, 25-21. Cheboygan came out strong and came within three points of a win, at 22-13, but an Alpena comeback led by server Alexis Smith helped bring the Wildcats within striking distance of sweeping Cheboygan, but they just couldn’t make up the difference.

Doubek was pleased with the level of competition in the quad this year, especially from the Onaway team.

“I knew they were going to be strong and I told the girls to be careful. When (Onaway) came out a bit timid in the first game, it gave the girls the wrong impression and we didn’t make adjustments quickly enough. They’re a great team and they played really well tonight,” she said.

Watson can’t wait for next year’s quad.

“They already told us we could come back if we wanted and I’m really excited about it. The chance to play against such great teams doesn’t come around for us a lot and it felt great to win some big games and matches,” he said.