by Richard Lamb—Advance Editor
It’s on to the regional finals for the Rogers City (33-10-1) volleyball team after a convincing sweep of DeTour Tuesday at the Rudyard regional semifinals.
Sophomore middle hitter Taylor Fleming dominated at the net. She nailed 15 kills while notching 9 solo blocks. Her play neutralized DeTour’s big hitter, Sarah Bailey. Unchecked, Bailey drove several shots to the floor. But when matched with a single block from Taylor Fleming or when facing double blocks from Veronica Szczerowski, Hannah Dittmar or Kayla Rabeau, the DeTour hitters had troubles.
“I was surprised they didn’t find (Bailey) more often. Taylor blocked her, but if she had a way to get around, she could really put the ball down,” said Huron coach Jackie Quaine.
“Taylor did an awesome job being a monster on the net. She was just huge for us, blocking and hitting.”
Rogers City played with confidence, coming up with save after save during the match. They have not lost a set in the tournament.
“They didn’t quit. Now that it’s crunch time, everybody is hitting the floor. They are making the plays they need to stay alive. That’s what we needed tonight,” Quaine said.
THE HURONS started off hot in the first set running out to an 11-3 lead, with two of the DeTour points coming on bad serves by Rogers City.
When DeTour cut the lead to 18-13, the Hurons responded. Two kills from Taylor Fleming, off sets from Erika Peacock, and a DeTour error forced the Raiders to call time out. That didn’t stop the momentum as the Hurons ran off the next four points to ice the win.
In the second set, DeTour built a 5-1 lead before the Hurons came back. Rabeau made a diving dig, passing to Peacock to set up a kill from Taylor Fleming. Saige Wagner tipped a shot over the defense and a shot went out to give the Hurons a 14-13 lead. The score would be tied again two more times before the Hurons pulled away.
A confident Huron squad took a 9-2 lead but watched it slip away in the third set. DeTour tied the score at 19-19. An ace from Rabeau gave the Hurons a 23-20 lead, two points away from match point. But DeTour would not go down easily. Bailey blocked a kill attempt from Taylor Fleming and then two kills tied the score at 23-23 prompting Quaine to call timeout.
Hannah Fleming set up Taylor Fleming for a kill, bringing Rogers City to match point. Then DeTour earned the next two points to got to set point. But in this back and forth set, Taylor Fleming came up with her ninth block of the match to save match point and Dittmar drilled her only two ace serves of the match to win the set and the match.
Rabeau had eight kills, 23 digs and three aces and Saige Wagner had six kills for the Hurons. Peacock had 19 assists and 12 digs while Hannah Fleming had 11 assists and nine digs. Jayna Hance had 18 digs.
WITH THE regional semifinal win, the Hurons advance to the regional finals tonight (Thursday) against Pellston, a 3-1 winner over Brimley in the second match Tuesday in Rudyard. Rogers City defeated the Hornets 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-10) in last year’s regional finals before a rowdy and supportive crowd in Mackinaw City. The Hurons lost 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 16-25) to Crystal Falls Forest Park (CF) in last year’s quarterfinals. CF, like the Hurons, are an honorable mention in the latest coach’s poll.
Looking ahead, there are no top-ten ranked teams left in the top half of the Class D brackets. Entering regional play, seven of the 16 teams left in the bottom half of the bracket were ranked in the top ten or honorable mention, according to the last poll from the Michigan High School Volleyball Coaches Association.
Teams left in the regional round included defending champion Leland, playing in the Bellaire regional, top-ranked Plymouth Christian, which faced tenth-ranked North Adams-Jerome, and last year’s state runner-up Battle Creek St. Philip, which squared off with second-ranked Mendon in the Bellview regional. St. Philip won the state title each year from 2007 through 2014.
THE WINNER of the Rudyard regional plays the winner of the Ishpeming regional featuring Crystal Falls Forest Park, a 3-0 winner over Rapid River, and Carney-Nadeau, which defeated Lake Linden Hubbell 3-2. That quarterfinal match is scheduled to be played at Engadine High School Tuesday at 7 p.m.
The quarterfinal winner advances to the state semifinal round November 18 at 2 p.m. at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. The state final game is 10 a.m. November 19.
Updates will be posted at PIAdvance.com.