Gwinn Modeltowners volleyball team falls in 5th set at Gladstone

Gwinn’s Lena Pleaugh, left, dives for the ball against Gladstone on Thursday at the Braves’ gym. Looking on for Gwinn is Blaze Houle. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Justin St. Ours) Gwinn’s Lena Pleaugh (1) dives for the ball against Gladstone Thursday at Gladstone. Looking on for Gwinn is Blaze Houle (7).

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone volleyball team outlasted Gwinn in a fifth set to pull out a Mid-Peninsula Conference victory at home on Thursday.

Recently returned Megan Crow and Alivia Blowers helped the Braves get through for a 25-23, 17-25, 18-25, 27-25, 15-9 victory.

After a fourth set that the Braves pushed into extra points, the teams traded off to start the fifth. Midway through, the Braves hit a return as Gwinn (3-4) crept back to within 8-7.

However, a timeout from Gladstone halted the Modeltowners’ momentum, and after a long volley, a Gwinn return landed out of bounds.

“I just really wanted to make the point that the girls needed to come together and finish this because they worked so hard,” Braves coach Averi Kanyuh said.

Then a communication error let one drop for the Modeltowners to add to the Braves’ advantage, 10-7.

“I think they stopped communicating,” Gwinn coach Toni Roberts said. “I don’t know what they got afraid of in that last set, but they just tensed up too much. They weren’t moving. They weren’t doing the things we know how to do.

“We missed a couple crucial serves down the run there, and it really helped turn a couple crucial pages for Gladstone.”

After a heated volley, Crow tipped the ball back over the net offhanded after Gladstone missed the block.

A Braves’ serve into the net gave it back to the Modeltowners and enabled another point to reduce Gwinn’s deficit to 11-9, but Crow jumped back in with back-to-back spikes to take control and move Gladstone within two points of the finish line, 13-9.

After a Gwinn timeout, one of its returns landed out of bounds, but Jordana Hardy earned a kill to give the Modeltowners a chance and made it 14-10.

However, with it all on the line, Blowers finished the set and the match with a shot Gwinn couldn’t get a handle on.

“I think the girls that did well hitting, like Megan, just really took charge,” Kanyuh said. “We needed that. We needed someone to take charge and to get the job done.”

In the fourth set, the Braves led most of the way before Gwinn used a 5-1 run to tie it 22-22.

Gladstone added two points, but back-to-back kills from Hardy retied it at 24, and a Gladstone double-hit gave Gwinn a 25-24 advantage.

Another penalty turned it back over to the Braves with it tied again, and Ahna Larson put them ahead while Blowers ended the set with a service ace, 27-25.

In the second set, the Braves led early but fell behind in the middle of the set. The Braves pulled ahead by one near the end, but a kill from Hardy gave Gwinn possession. The Modeltowners’ Blaze Houle was then able to run with it, entering an eight-point service run — including two aces — to finish out the set.

The same happened in the third, with the Modeltowners taking control near the middle of the set. Gwinn’s captain, Tianna Taylor, ended the set with a hard spike.

“We changed up our rotation a little bit,” Roberts said. “We’ve had a player out for the last two weeks due to quarantine — though she wasn’t sick, she had to be quarantined.

“It really turned things around having her back in the game. That’s where we were able to get fired up — getting (Jordana) Hardy back in the game.

“They communicated well, and they adapted to the rotations. They did the best they could do in the moment.”

Gwinn, which won the JV match, hosts Ishpeming on Tuesday in a match that was recently scheduled.


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