Modeltowners come from behind on road to clinch share of M-PC crown
IRON MOUNTAIN — Gwinn battled from two sets down to edge Iron Mountain in five sets in a Mid-Peninsula Conference volleyball match played at Iron Mountain on Tuesday night.
Gwinn won 17-25, 15-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-13 to guarantee themselves at least a share of the league title.
Gwinn held a narrow lead throughout the third set before Iron Mountain cut the gap to 22-20 and forced a Modeltowners timeout. The third-set win was how Gwinn started its turnaround from a two-set deficit.
“We’ve been really struggling lately. My team’s held together by athletic tape, braces and a little bit of luck at this point,” Gwinn head coach Toni Roberts said. “We’ve struggled with about six serious injuries. so it’s been making practices hard. It’s been making keeping intensity hard and it showed in the first two games that we were lacking intensity.
“Iron Mountain had outstanding servers and we couldn’t serve receive their balls. They had hustle play after hustle play and we couldn’t match their momentum.
“In the third game we focused on matching their momentum, getting the hustle plays and working harder on defense. They just found a way to get it together and work that hard.”
Gwinn took a 4-0 lead to start the decisive fifth set before Iron Mountain called a timeout. The Mountaineers battled back to a 13-13 tie, but the Modeltowners finished it off with the final two points.
“We had the momentum at one point,” IM head coach Jeanne Newberry said. “At 13-13, I thought maybe. We had the opportunity.”
Heidi Eden’s 32 digs helped the Gwinn defense rally for points. Trisha McGuire paced the Modeltowners with 20 assists, six kills, 10 digs and three service aces. In addition, Brenna Bruce and Brooke Mannor paced the GHS offense with nine kills apiece as Bruce also had 16 assists, seven digs and two aces, while Mannor added nine digs and an ace. Teammate Tierra Taylor had eight kills, six digs and two blocks, while Hannah Noel pitched in with six kills.
Hanna Ellis led Iron Mountain with 22 assists. Jacqui Rollins’ 18 digs was an Iron Mountain team high.
Roberts said injuries have plagued the Modeltowners all season and it’s been a struggle to gather and maintain momentum as a result.
“We’re missing about half of our roster from the beginning of the season,” she said. “The mentality of these girls has been a roller coaster all season. Volleyball is such a mental game. When your head’s not there, your game’s not there. My girls found a way to get their heads there.”
Roberts said the difference between the final three sets and the first two was Gwinn’s hustle on defense along with communication.
“We just started communicating and we started hustling more,” Roberts said. “When a pass got shanked in the first two sets, my girls weren’t chasing it. In the last three sets they started chasing it.”
The Mountaineers won the JV match, 25-20, 17-25, 25-10.