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Carney-Nadeau Wolves take down Jeffers Jets for Division 4 regional volleyball title

Carney-Nadeau’s Taylor Kedsch, right, returns the ball with Jeffers’ Mara Pietila, left, and Marissa Nordstrom defending during their MHSAA Division 4 regional semifinal volleyball match at Westwood High School on Thursday night. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

ISHPEMING — In the wild, wolves attack in a pack and use a coordinated effort to take down prey.

That’s basically what it took Thursday for the Carney-Nadeau volleyball team to win its second straight MHSAA Division 4 regional title as the Wolves took down Jeffers in four sets, 25-15, 25-27, 25-23, 25-13, at Westwood High School.

Liana Blahnik and Taylor Kedsch combined for 35 kills for the Wolves, while Hailey Ernest had 36 assists. On the serve, Blahnik and Sandra Boulton both had six aces, while Zoey Poupore led C-N defensively with 37 digs.

C-N head coach Steve Kedsch said his team just kept hitting the ball hard at the Jets and it gradually started to work. He also said his team’s communication improved as the match wore on.

“Once we seemed to get our passes to the target zone, Hailey did a great job getting the ball to our hitters,” he said. “We just kept pounding at them, and eventually you start scoring points.

“In the first set, we were talking really well and the second and third set was a little bit of struggle with communication. In the fourth set, once we got the momentum going, it’s easier to communicate and talk when that happens.”

On the other side, the Jets seemed to be in good spirits despite having their season come to an end. After all, they’d won a district title and made it to the regional final in just their second year as a program. To Jeffers head coach Rachel Torp, that was a great accomplishment.

“This was a different team than I think we saw on Tuesday,” she said. “(The Wolves) hit way more balls than they did on Tuesday. They just put them right to the floor on us. We just couldn’t return a ball and that’s where they got us.

“This is only our second season, so it’s showing to our younger girls in our school because we just started our program, that our girls can go far and we can do this. This is big motivation.”

Marissa Nordstrom and Kenna Harris both had six kills for the Jets, while Brenna Hill had 19 assists and four aces.

In the first set, the Wolves used a 7-0 run to open up an 8-3 lead on three aces from Boulton and two kills from Kedsch. Jeffers fought back and tied it at 11-11, but with Poupore serving, C-N notched eight straight points to take a 20-12 advantage. The run was highlighted by a kill from Boulton, who had her first attempt dug up by the Jets, but then hammered down her second opportunity.

It took a while for the Jets’ offense to take off in the second set, but once it did, Jeffers wouldn’t go away. The Jets trailed 12-7 at one point thanks to back-to-back aces from Kedsch, but fought back and eventually took the lead at 15-14 on an ace by Hill. C-N retook control and led 19-15 on two straight aces from Boulton, but once again, the Jets rallied to cut the lead to one at 19-18.

The Wolves appeared to have the set in the bag, holding a 23-18 advantage on a tip from Kedsch, but Jeffers didn’t give up. They scored six points in a row to go up 24-23 on an ace from Harris and later ended the set with a block by Nordstrom.

The third set was another seesaw affair with Jeffers leading 12-8 on an ace by Harris, but C-N answered back later with a quick 5-0 run, including three straight aces from Blahnik, to take a 21-19 advantage. The Jets tied it at 22-22 on a pair of Wolves hitting errors and again at 23-23 on a C-N service error. However, the Wolves finished the set with a kill by Kedsch.

C-N controlled the fourth set, going up 14-8 on an ace by Kedsch and 18-11 on an ace by Poupore. The Wolves closed things out largely on a 6-0 run that included three kills from Blahnik.

The Wolves face Rudyard in the Division 4 quarterfinals Tuesday in Sault Ste. Marie.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.