GWINN - Gwinn and Manistique spent a few hours and five sets on the volleyball court at the Modeltowners' gym Tuesday night, but really haven't settled anything between them yet.
The Modeltowners prevailed in the Mid-Peninsula Conference match, 25-13, 26-24, 22-25, 18-25, 15-13, to retain control over their own destiny in the quest for a conference championship.
Each team entered the match at 6-2 in the M-PC, a game behind Iron Mountain. And both have a match left against the Mountaineers - the Emeralds at IM on Thursday and Gwinn at home on Tuesday.
Manistique sophomore Maggie Morrison, left, sends the ball over the net as Gwinn juniors Shelby Talsma, front, and Bella Wedig attempt to block during at the Modeltowners’ gym on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)
So any - or all - of these three teams could still win a league title outright, or at the very least earn a share of the title.
A whole other issue is the superiority between Gwinn and Manistique. The Modeltowners got revenge on the Emeralds for a 3-2 loss in Manistique on Sept. 11.
So things are even between them, setting up the perfect scenario for an opening-round match in the Class C district during the last week of October to be played in Gwinn - between the Modeltowners and Manistique.
"We're, knock on wood, undefeated at home this season," said Gwinn coach Stephanie Bahrman. "We're a tough team to beat at our own gym.
"We've come a great distance since the beginning of the season. I don't know if we would've pulled this out early on."
The finals of this "nontraditional" district will be played in either Newberry or Stephenson.
On Tuesday, Gwinn held the lead for nearly all of Game 1 while Manistique led throughout Game 2 until the very end as Gwinn won each.
Then the teams traded leads during Games 3 and 4. Both were Manistique wins that forced the fifth-game race-to-15.
The deciding game was a microcosm of the evening - Gwinn grabbed early leads of 4-1 and 8-4 before the Emeralds mounted a stirring comebacks to tie it at 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
Manistique's only lead of the game came at 13-12 after senior Monica Giles tapped a ball over the net and just inside the back corner on Gwinn's side.
Then Modeltowners' junior Katie Aho tipped the ball down the Manistique sideline and junior teammate Chelsea Moton followed with a slam off an Emeralds blocker for match point.
That got the partisan Gwinn crowd to its feet, yelling and clapping as Manistique senior Monica Giles hit a hard shot down the middle of the court that went sailing about two feet long.
"Game 5 was a battle all the way," Emeralds coach Amy Nixon said. "The game was intense and both teams played hard."
By the final game, both sides found that well-placed taps were more successful than hard slams while going for kills, since each team's defense was more than up to the task of tackling hard shots made at them.
"We started playing together again as a team in the last game," Aho said. "We just had to find the spot where to hit it, and keep our serves in play."
The teams combined for 195 digs - 102 by Manistique and 93 by Gwinn - as Aho finished with 26 and Emeralds' sophomore Maggie Morrison had 22.
In other statistics, Manistique had the match's top individual while Gwinn spread out its numbers. For kills, the Emeralds' Giles had 12, while Gwinn got 11 from Moton and junior Shelby Talsma, 10 from Aho, eight from junior Bella Wedig and seven from senior Morgan Bruce.
MHS senior Maryse Hinkson led all players with eight service aces and Morrison added five. For Gwinn, Bruce and Wedig also had five while Aho and sophomore Ashley Childs chipped in with four.
In the JV match, Gwinn was again extended to the limit, winning 18-25, 26-24, 25-17.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.