Gwinn volleyball team upends Ishpeming in 4 sets to roar into MHSAA district tourney

Gwinn's Jordana Hardy celebrates after the Modeltowners won a point in a Mid-Peninsula Conference and West PAC volleyball match against Ishpeming played at the Hematites' gym on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Travis Nelson)

ISHPEMING — The Gwinn volleyball team took advantage of a fast start to hold off a comeback by Ishpeming in a four-set win at the Hematites’ gym on Tuesday night.

Gwinn won 25-12, 25-18, 17-25, 25-20, holding off a furious Ishpeming comeback in both the third and fourth sets. The Modeltowners had to go on the road and defeat the Hematites on their senior night, and Gwinn coach Kandel Ahola said that her team held their emotions in check, especially after experiencing their own senior night last week.

“Today, I mean they stayed pretty high the whole time, so that was great,” Ahola said after the match. “But like last week it was our senior night, and for every single team, every senior night is hard. They all get really emotional.

“So to be able to pull out a win on that kind of night is huge, and that is all chalked up to us going into everything with mental preparedness and being strong throughout the entire time. They’ve done a really great job at controlling everything this season and being able to bump up their teammates and bump themselves up, tonight no exception.”

Ishpeming started slowly, trailing 2-0 after two sets, but Hematites coach Katt Beerling said her team came out of their emotions in the third set, which just wasn’t fast enough.

Ishpeming's Hannah Deloughary readies to serve in a Mid-Peninsula Conference and West PAC volleyball match against Gwinn played at the Hematites' gym on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Travis Nelson)

“I think these senior nights are emotional to begin with, but this senior class is the first class that, as a coach I’ve watched them grow up from freshmen to sophomores to varsity,” Beerling said. “This is a tough season for us losing these seven seniors, but I think they did a good job of coming out of their emotions in Set 3 and we just didn’t wake up quick enough in the first set.”

The Modeltowners cruised in the first two sets. Gwinn found a rotation that worked well, Ahola said. GHS got away from it in the third set, and the Hematites pounced to get back in the match.

“We had a really great setup our first two sets,” Ahola said. “The group that we had in, they all jelled really good together. I switched it up in the third set, (then) we just went back to where we started with the first set up, the first players. We found a certain rotation that works for us and whenever I try to deviate out of that, it seems to not work.

“Going back to those players who work well together, they can pretty much tackle it.”

For Ishpeming, the communication and energy picked up in the third set, Beerling said.

Ishpeming's Faith Loman, left, checks in for teammate Bailey Zellar, right, in a Mid-Peninsula Conference and West PAC volleyball match against Gwinn played at the Hematites' gym on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Travis Nelson)

“We just weren’t talking, we were playing as individuals and then they finally started coming together,” Beerling said. “I tell them every single day, every single practice, every single match that they have what it takes. They just have to want it, to fire up and go for it.”

Gwinn took the momentum back and closed out the Hematites in the fourth set.

The Modeltowners spread out its attack quite well, with five players having between six and nine kills. Jordana Hardy led the way with nine kills, also adding team highs of 20 digs and two blocks to go with three service aces.

Shanna LaRock led in the ace department with five while also making 12 digs. Jada LaCount had eight kills, while Blaze Houle made seven kills with just one error for a .333 attack percentage and Tori Paquin and Lena Pleaugh each had six kills, Paquin also contributing three aces and Pleaugh 27 set assists and 11 digs.

Olivia Corp led Ishpeming with 10 kills and Hannah Deloughary had 14 digs. Madison McNab tallied 12 digs, Abbi Bruhnke had 11 and Abby Koski 10. Emily Morton contributed 11 assists, while Bruhnke, Koski and Megan Racine each had three aces.

Both teams have completed their regular seasons, and will begin in the same MHSAA Division 3 district tournament next week.

Gwinn plays at Westwood on Monday, with the winner to play Hancock on Wednesday. On the other side of the bracket, Ishpeming gets a Monday bye and will play Wednesday against the winner of Monday’s match between Calumet and West Iron County.

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


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