Gwinn volleyball team wins roller-coaster 5-setter vs. Manistique

Gwinn’s Shanna LaRock waits for her toss to fall while serving during a high school volleyball match against Manistique played in the Modeltowners’ gym on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Travis Nelson)

GWINN — It wasn’t the way the Gwinn volleyball team was hoping the match would go after winning the first two sets, but in the end the result was a victory for the Modeltowners after the home team defeated Manistique in five sets on Tuesday night.

It was about as even as a match could get with each team winning a set 25-23, both teams countering any momentum the other could muster.

The difference might’ve been as simple as

home court as Gwinn prevailed 25-23, 25-17, 23-25, 10-25, 15-10.

“I think the first couple of sets, we just started off slow and weren’t even in the match to begin with,” Manistique coach Amy Nixon said. “So I just reminded them of that and we came out in the third set and really had to fight for that win.

“Once we did, I feel like that gave us the momentum and that reminded them of what they’re capable of and came out in the fourth set and just blew the doors off of them, which was awesome.”

Manistique's Annabel Burnham, center, waits for the ball to make a kill attempt during a high school volleyball match played at Gwinn on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Travis Nelson)

After losing the third and fourth sets, Gwinn turned it around just in time to capture the fifth and deciding set.

Gwinn was cruising for two sets, however.

“So we’ve been working a lot on pushing through emotionally,” Gwinn coach Kandel Ahola said. “The girls, they kind of get into a slump and they just can’t pull out of it, so we’ve been really struggling and pushing through that.

“Tonight I just said, ‘You are in control of your emotions’, so they actually pulled through and they did a really great job. I’m super proud of them, I could not be more proud.

“Manistique is always a really hard team for us in general, we’re really neck and neck all the time,” Ahola said. “They’re our biggest competitors, I would say, so we had to get in the right mindset this entire time.

“We’ve actually been practicing for Manistique since last week, all season honestly.”

Jordana Hardy led the Modeltowners with 24 kills and just six errors for an attack percentage of .391. She added in two service aces and three set assists.

Lena Pleaugh was Gwinn’s main setter, earning 41 of its 50 set assists while adding in seven kills and two aces. Teammate Shay Spencer had eight kills and two aces, while Jada LaCount had seven kills and a team-high four aces. Meanwhile, Tori Paquin added in six kills and three aces.

For the Emeralds, sophomore Emma Jones led the team with 25 assists, while junior Ava Hinkson had 15 digs and junior Nora Cunningham added 10.

Sophomore Ella Schuetter was all over the place with 19 kills and five blocks, with three juniors — Carley Schoenow, Sarah McDaniel and Annabel Burnham — had five kills each. McDaniel also had four aces and senior Baylee Allor three.

After the match, Nixon led Manistique in a long talk about how the team will move forward.

“I just wanted to leave on a positive note and remind them of all the good things that they did tonight and the things that we need to work on moving forward,” Nixon said.

Ahola mentioned how competitive it is when these programs face off.

“Our team chemistry is actually really good, I feel like us as a team, all of the girls are friends,” Ahola said. “I told them that not every team has that luxury of being so close and I feel like I had this team since their JV year, since these girls (the seniors) were sophomores.”

Manistique hosts Escanaba tonight, while Gwinn has a week off before traveling to Westwood on Tuesday.

Travis Nelson can be reached by email at tnelson@miningjournal.net.


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