Thriller of a sweep: Manistique volleyball team pulls off amazing comeback in second set at Ishpeming

Ishpeming’s Madigan Johns, center, attempts a kill against the block of Manistique’s Erin LaBar during their high school volleyball match held at the Hematities’ gym on Monday night. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

ISHPEMING — Renae Schuetter didn’t have much room to work with when she came up to serve in the second set of the first high school volleyball match of the season in Ishpeming on Monday night.

The senior defensive specialist for Manistique faced a 24-13 deficit against their hosts, fellow Mid-Peninsula Conference rival Ishpeming.

The Hematites were one point away from winning the set and evening the match 1-1 unless the Emeralds reeled off at least 11 straight points without a failure.

The spoiler alert was that they did as Manistique went on to take the match 26-24, 29-27, 25-18, one of the few ways you could call a three-set sweep a thriller.

Ishpeming head coach Katt Beerling credited her players for putting in a lot more effort than the sweep might indicate.

“My girls definitely fought really hard,” Beerling said. “They showed me a lot of great things; they’re a great team and they have a lot of potential, it’s just going to take a couple of practices to prove to them that they can play well and be a competitor in this conference.”

In the first set, Manistique held a 19-18 lead before going on a 5-0 run to reach set point. Ishpeming responded with a six-point run to tie the set before the Emeralds scored the final two points to take the set.

It would be the second set that gave fans their money’s worth.

Ishpeming would get on the board early and often, taking a commanding 18-5 lead. The Hematites worked it to set point reached set point before Manistique began to shine, scoring the 11 straight points needed to tie the set 24-24. The Hematites regrouped and won the next point, and the teams traded leads twice before the Emeralds finally won.

“We weren’t controlling the pace and we were letting them attack while we stayed defensive,” Manistique head coach Amy Nixon said. “I called a timeout and we were able to take control of the set; we had nothing to lose there and I think that gave us the momentum going into Set 3 to finish them off.”

Nixon added that the comeback should give her team confidence going forward.

“Now they can believe in themselves every time they get down big that it’s possible,” Nixon said. “Volleyball is never over until the final point is scored.”

Schuetter said the second-set comeback was something she’d never seen nor experienced.

“I’ve never seen a team bounce back like that before,” Schuetter said. “We came back but we had to really fight for it.”

Teammate Joslyn Muth agreed with Schuetter, adding it was one of the most fun matches she’s ever played in.

“It was absolutely insane,” Muth said. “We started off really slow, which we tend to do, but we did dig back and it was pretty crazy; we came together and kept saying ‘Don’t give up, just believe.'”

The third set would be much less stressful for fans and players alike, with the Emeralds racing out to a 10-3 lead and eventually finishing off the sweep.

Emilee McDaniel led the way for the Emeralds with three aces, seven kills and one block. Muth had 19 assists and 15 digs on the night.

Leaders for the Hematites included Madigan Johns with 11 digs, Korey Kaukola with eight kills and Hailey Smith with six aces.

Beerling added that each player contributed something in the match for the Hematites.

“I think they all had their moments,” Beerling said. “Each girl did a very good job of stepping in when they needed to; I wouldn’t say there was a star out there tonight but they all had their highlights.”

Ishpeming has a 10-day break before going on the road to face Iron Mountain on Aug. 31. Manistique returns home next Tuesday for a tri-match with Engadine and Munising.

The Emeralds won the JV match, 25-20, 25-11.

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