Playing spoiler again
The Alpena volleyball team’s season came to an end on Monday in a three-set loss to Traverse City West during a Class A district quarterfinal.
The Wildcats lost 25-17, 25-10 and 25-11, ending the high school volleyball careers of five Alpena seniors: Mikaela Overton, Taylor Genschaw, Emma Strong, Carly Hoeksema and Logan Myers.
This is the second year in a row the Titans have knocked Alpena out of the playoffs.
“It doesn’t come down to the score. I know that in our hearts we played our best. It’s Traverse City West. It’s hard to get around (West’s Katie Placek), but I’m proud of the way these girls played. They’ve come so far since the beginning of the year,” Myers said.
Myers had three kills and seven digs in the match.
At first, Alpena seemed to take quick control of the match. The first set saw the Wildcats jump out to a 7-2 lead off the kills of Taylor Genschaw, an ace from Alexis Smith and a block by Ellie Wedge.
Genschaw had 11 kills for the night while Smith had 17 assists.
The team energy level was high during this Alpena streak in front of a cheering hometown crowd.
“We had some moments of very intense play. I thought we were pretty tough in the first set. As long as that energy level was high, we were right in the set,” Alpena coach Melissa Doubek.
Trailing 8-3, the Titans regained their bearings by scoring eight straight points to take an 11-8 lead. Anna O’Hara was especially tough during this streak, picking up two tips and a kill.
The Wildcats continued to return volleys from O’Hara and Placek, but couldn’t stop every hit. The Titans continually added to their lead to go up 15-11.
“We weren’t setting up our offense effectively enough. We gave them too many chances for big hits,” Doubek said.
The Wildcats kept it close, coming within two points at 17-15, but the Titans scored for six straight points to take a 23-15 lead and went on to win the set.
The second set was initially tight, as Alpena held the Titans to a 6-5 lead. Jordan Modrzynski was key during the early part of the set, throwing down some hard spikes and playing solid defense.
Modrzynski had two kills.
The Titans then scored 16 points of the next 17 points to go up 22-6. Server Kimmy Bilinski picked up two aces, but most of West’s points came off the kills of Placek and O’Hara.
During this scoreless drought, Alpena was led defensively by Overton, Myers and Isabelle O’Neil. They dug deep to keep return some of Placek spikes, but couldn’t get much scoring momentum going.
Overton had eight digs on the night while O’Neil had seven. Strong had three kills.
Alpena picked up some more points late in the set, but not enough to stop a 25-10 loss.
The third set echoed the first two: Alpena stayed close early on, playing to a 4-4 tie, but fell too far behind on a Titans’ scoring streak.
This time, the Titans scored 15 of the next 16 points to take a 19-5 lead. Alpena’s back row continued to return volleys while the front row threw down hard hit spikes, but the Titans’ counteracted effort led to a 25-11 win.
“At first I was a little bit skeptical (about the team), because we had so many young girls. But, as the season progressed, they’ve stepped up their game and they’re proven themselves. I’m so proud of how well they’ve grown as players. We had a nice, little scrappy squad this year,” Myers said.
West will play at Marquette on Thursday.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.