Volleyball central: Westwood High School plays in one regional, hosts another today

Westwood’s Elizabeth Farley jumps for the ball to pop it back to Negaunee during the Class C district tournament championship match on Thursday evening at Lakeview Memorial Gymnasium in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — Westwood is at the center of the Upper Peninsula volleyball universe this afternoon with the Patriots participating in one MHSAA regional and hosting another.

The state generally avoids having a potential participant host a regional, so the Patriots volleyball team guided by Heather Salmi will travel to the Class C regional being held at Gladstone for a 5 p.m. match against West Iron County. Calumet plays St. Ignace in the semifinal match that follows.

For those who don’t want to travel, the Westwood gym is hosting today’s Class D regional. Forest Park takes on Carney-Nadeau at 5 p.m., with Munising vs. Lake Linden-Hubbell to follow, tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m.

Both regional championship matches will be played on Thursday evening. Westwood’s Class D play is scheduled for 6 p.m., while the Class C event at Gladstone is set for 7 p.m.

Westwood dispatched a pair of Mid-Peninsula Conference foes last week in a Class C district in Negaunee, defeating Ishpeming in its opener in three sets before also winning in three sets in the final against the host Miners.

Only once in those six sets did the Patriots give up as many as 20 points, with the seeds set for that good fortune being sowed in Westwood’s final regular-season match against Gwinn.

“The Gwinn (match) we came out and we were the underdogs,” Salmi said after capturing the district on Thursday night. “I thought we were the underdogs coming into this week, too, and they just showed up ready to play. We had something to prove and we did.”

“They’re really enjoying themselves. They’re having a blast and enjoying the game. It’s fun to coach, they enjoy being at practice right now and I’m looking forward to next week.”

Senior Elizabeth Farley racked up 40 kills and 42 digs in the two matches, the first time the Pats have won a district title since 2003.

Munising had a longer, though similar trip through its district played in Rapid River, having to win three matches against fellow Skyline Central Conference opponents.

The Mustangs piled up a trio of three-set sweeps over Superior Central, Mid Peninsula and Rapid River in four days, not allowing 20 points in any of the nine sets they played.

“It was just a matter of staying focused and continuing to play hard, and I figured sooner or later the separation would start to happen,” first-year MHS coach Ted Williams said after a neck-and-neck battle in the first set of the championship against the host Rockets on Thursday.

Winners of these regionals advance to the quarterfinals that are scheduled to be played at Upper Peninsula sites next Tuesday.

The Class C winner advances to Munising to play the Houghton Lake regional winner at 7 p.m., while the Class D winner goes to Manistique against the Brimley regional winner at 6 p.m.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.