RAPID RIVER - The Munising High School volleyball team went seven years between district titles, but was able to snap its skid Thursday night by featuring four freshmen in prominent roles.
Munising may have gotten a tougher test than expected against the hard-hitting Rapid River Rockets, but limited its mistakes and transitioned well in a 26-24, 25-19, 25-9 MHSAA Class D district final victory.
Junior Karlee Decet had seven kills and freshman Michaela Peramaki came up with four blocks. Two more freshmen, Bailey Downs and Frankie Mattson had two and three kills, respectively.
Munising's Megan Watson serves the ball during the third set against Rapid River on Thursday night in the middle of a 6-0 run in?Rapid River. Munising won the MHSAA Class D district final in three sets. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Keith Shelton)
"They've been solid all year mentally. I couldn't ask for more," said Mustangs coach Josh Cole of his four freshmen. "They're a good group of friends and they're always in the gym, all summer, every day. Them being together all the time really helps out."
In a back and forth first set, Munising broke an early 5-5 tie to take a 10-5 advantage, but the Rockets stormed back on an 8-1 run and led 20-16 and 24-22 late. The Mustangs, however, took control after a time out and took four-straight points, winning the set on back-to-back Rockets hitting errors. Rapid River led 10-9 and 16-14 in the second set before Munising surged ahead on a 4-0 run. The Mustangs didn't relinquish the lead from there. The Rockets stayed close, getting within 20-19, but the Mustangs top server Megan Watson came up after a sideout and served the last four points to end the set.
Savannah Stenlund led the Rockets with 10 kills. Hannah Kanuyh added six kills and Josie Miller had four kills and three blocks.
The big difference for Munising was stepping up in the clutch and playing solid defense down the stretch.
"We've been pretty consistent all year scrapping out on defense" said Cole. "We don't let too much hit the floor which helps out a lot. It's just getting the younger players, the four freshmen, to execute a little more. That's what a coach wants. They did alright though."
The Rockets had their share of hitting errors, but as coach Lisa Kanyuh said, she'd rather have her team go down swinging than pushing the ball over the net.