ISHPEMING - Coach Amy Rautiola says her Ishpeming High School volleyball players came ready to play Thursday night.
"We came out with great intensity from the get-go," she said after the Hematites posted a three-game 25-12, 25-21, 25-14 Mid-Peninsula Conference win over host Westwood.
"We've been struggling the last couple of matches where we come out a little sluggish. It took the girls a while to get going. Tonight, they played well right off the bat."
Westwood’s Alexandra Sandin (1) sets for a teammate as Ishpeming’s Jessica Spencer (7) prepares to block during the second game at Westwood High School on Thursday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Westwood’s Sydney Turino goes for the kill as Ishpeming’s Brittany Doney tries to block her during the second game. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
The Hematites (7-3-4 overall and 3-2 in league play) took a quick 10-4 lead in the first game and never looked back. Caitlin Korvala posted two aces and Alesha O'Brien had two kills to lead the way.
"Our communication was good and so was our (court) coverage," said O'Brien, who finished with eight kills, five aces and two blocks on the night.
"We also had some good digs. We've been practicing that."
Westwood head coach Janine Chapman said her Patriots couldn't match Ishpeming's early surge.
"Ishpeming came out with more focus and heart than we did," she said. "We'll just have to get them the next time."
The Patriots (0-6, 0-5) managed to make it close in the second game, however, trailing just 16-15 before the Hematites put the game away.
Danielle Swiedals, Sara Delongchamp, Alexandra Sandin and Alexis Nelson all recorded aces for the Patriots in the game.
"We started to get into the flow and set the ball up more," Chapman said. "We just couldn't finish."
Said Rautiola: "I really don't know what happened there. Westwood just found its groove."
O'Brien said it was more than that, however.
"Our intensity dropped a little," she said. "The Patriots got into our heads."
Ishpeming rolled in the third game, however, racing to a 13-2 advantage en route to the match-clinching 25-14 triumph.
"The girls knew Westwood came close (to winning) that second set and they wanted a 3-0 match," Rautiola said. "They didn't want to give Westwood a chance to come back that third set.
"It was a true team effort tonight."
O'Brien turned in two aces, and Brittany Doney and Jessica Spencer a kill apiece in the set.
"We just got down on ourselves," Chapman said. "We made it too easy for them.
"The girls have a lot of heart and want to win, but we just have to finish."
On the night, Natalee Dobson turned in 15 assists for the winners, while Korvala recorded seven digs.
For Westwood, Alexandra Sandin and Sydney Turino collected three kills each. Tayler Gray added seven assists.
Ishpeming won the junior varsity match, 2-1.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.