MARQUETTE - Playing at home for the first time this season didn't help the Marquette Senior High School girls volleyball team Thursday night.
Unable to contain 6-foot-3 Kingsford middle hitter Lauren Smith, the Redettes dropped a four-set, 25-20, 19-25, 25-14, 25-18, decision to the Flivvers to fall to 1-2 in match play.
"We've got some work to do," MSHS head coach Mike Morgan said. "We're tentative now and our own worst enemies."
Marquette Senior High School’s Mariah Grange (14) goes in for a dig against the Kingsford Flivvers during a Great Northern?Conference volleyball match Thursday night in Marquette. (Journal photo by Jenna Thompson)
Effectively clogging the middle, Smith recorded an unofficial 12 kills and a block for Kingsford (8-4-2).
"She's my first 6-footer ever," Kingsford head coach Steve Andrews said, "and I've been coaching for 10 years.
"It gives you 1-on-1 battles and when you have that, your hitters will win most of those. And it gives you a blocking presence, as girls start trying to hit around you.
"You can't teach height," he added.
Morgan said he tells his players to hit the angles, but especially with someone like Smith in the middle.
"She also swings high and late. We didn't do a good job adjusting to her," he said.
Emily Murdock added an unofficial eight kills for the Flivvers, while teammate Maria Wiltzius turned in four kills and three blocks.
Hunter Viitala led MSHS with 10 kills. Taylor Smith contributed nine kills and two blocks; Elle Pearson four aces and seven digs; and Courtney McGovern 26 assists.
"We definitely didn't do well controlling the ball, with our passing, in particular," Morgan said.
Kingsford jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the first game, only to see the Redettes rally to get to within three points, 18-15, behind a kill by Smith.
"We were attacking well," Andrews said of the eventual 25-20 Kingsford win.
Game 2 saw MSHS turn a slim 7-5 lead into a 15-9 advantage behind two kills and an ace by McGovern before taking a 25-19 triumph.
"We served far more aggressive, passed much better and got (the Flivvers) off balance," Morgan said. "We took the momentum back.
"Unfortunately, we didn't carry that over into Game 3."
Added Andrews: "(Marquette) ran their offense. They got to their middles and got a power tip or a hit outside."
Even though the Redettes' Pearson recorded three straight aces to open Game 4, the Flivvers controlled play in the final two games to win the match going away.
"I'm pleased with our ability to shank a couple of shots and still get back in it," Andrews said.
Morgan said the Redettes "got back on our heels" in the third game and couldn't turn it around in Game 4.
"We looked good early (in the final game) and then got tentative," he said. "I have to do a better job as a coach to get them through that tendency."
In the junior varsity contest, Kingsford won, 2-1.