Onaway comes in second place in home invitational

ONAWAY-The Onaway volleyball team came up just short of winning another home tournament title on Saturday, but the Cardinals are keeping their focus on a larger goal.

Despite a convincing win over Boyne City earlier in the day (25-13, 25-13), Onaway got tripped up by the Ramblers in the finals of the Onaway Tournament, losing 26-28 and 22-25.

Boyne City’s victory came on the heels of an exciting three-set win over Cheboygan in the semifinals. Onaway defeated Central Lake 25-8, 25-14 in the semifinals and held set point against the Ramblers in the first finals set, but couldn’t pull out a win.

“We’ve beaten them the last four or five years in a row and they always have really good teams, so they were probably due to get us at some point,” Onaway coach Steve Watson said. “In the second set, we missed some serves and weren’t playing as effectively.”

Three Onaway players were named to the all-tournament team. Mariah Ehrke led Onaway with 60 kills and had an attack percentage of .324. She added 13 aces and 37 digs. Lexi Szymoniak had 27 kills, seven aces, 48 digs and seven blocks. Taylor Ehrke had 82 assists, five kills, 15 aces, 36 digs and five blocks.

Onaway started tournament play with a two-set win over Hillman 25-7 and 25-18. Hillman had trouble with serve reception and Onaway stormed out to a 12-1 lead in the opening set before a serve out of bounds finally gave Hillman the ball. Onaway kept control of the set, scoring the next eight points for a 20-2 advantage.

The Cardinals took control early again in the second set, as several aces by Taylor helped Onaway take an 8-2 lead. Serve reception errors helped Hillman narrow a sizeable deficit late in the set, but Onaway recovered and tips from Taylor and Sara Fullerton and two kills from Mariah helped the Cardinals close out the win.

Onaway played Harbor Springs in the next match and faced little resistance en route to winning 25-13 and 25-6.

Once the pools were reset, Onaway defeated Cheboygan (25-15, 25-20) and Boyne City after the Rambles struggled with serving and serve reception.

Fullerton added 16 kills, 12 aces, 23 digs and four blocks for Onaway. Devin Bristley had 14 kills, eight aces and 33 digs. Jade Galer had four kills after converting half of her attacks and added three aces and 10 digs.

Though the Cardinals were denied their seventh straight home tournament title, they’re keeper their focus on another Ski Valley Conference title. Onaway will face Johannesburg-Lewiston at home on Tuesday in a matchup of two Ski Valley unbeatens.

Onaway recently defeated JoBurg at a tournament in St. Ignace, but Watson expects a tough matchup. In advance of Tuesday’s game, Onaway will be working on closing games out when their opponent is on the ropes. The inability to beat the Ramblers in the first finals set was troubling to Watson and he pointed to last Tuesday’s win over Pellston as another example. Onaway won the first two sets, but lost the third set in extra points and had to play an extra set to beat the Hornets.

“It’s something we need to address because you give teams extra chances that way,” Watson said.

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.