Rematch with Crystal Falls coming for regional champion Lady Hurons

Players and fans celebrated the Lady Hurons' regional championship. The team returns to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
Players and fans celebrated the Lady Hurons’ regional championship. The team returns to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor

A quarterfinal rematch in ‘Da UP is in store for two volleyball powers. Both the Rogers City Hurons and the Crystal Falls Forest Park Trojans (CFFP) stayed undefeated in the MHSAA Class D volleyball tournament with regional wins Thursday.

The Trojans have taken straight set wins from Bessemer, Wakefield, Rapid River, and Carney Nadeau to earn district and regional titles. Rogers City lost to CFFP in last year’s quarterfinals 3-1 (23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 16-25).

Kayla Rabeau tees up the winning point as her classmates cheer her on. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
Kayla Rabeau tees up the winning point as her classmates cheer her on. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

Rogers City has topped Wolverine, Onaway, Hillman, DeTour and the Pellston Hornets to earn a quarterfinal berth and have not lost a set along the way.

THURSDAY IN Rudyard, the Lady Hurons took charge early to sweep Pellston 25-18, 25-22, 25-9).

“They didn’t back down. They just stayed with it and played their game. They played smart tonight and played together. The defense was great for us tonight, except for that tip coverage, but we seemed to get it together and handle that,” said coach Jackie Quaine.

As in the previous tournament games, the Hurons played excellent defense and dominated play at the net. Many rallies where kept alive as players hit the floor to save points.

The Huron defense gets set to return a hit from Pellston. Pictured are (from left) Veronica Szczerowski, Taylor Fleming, Megan Kowalewsky, Kayla Rabeau and Saige Wagner. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
The Huron defense gets set to return a hit from Pellston. Pictured are (from left) Veronica Szczerowski, Taylor Fleming, Megan Kowalewsky, Kayla Rabeau and Saige Wagner. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

In the first set Rogers City confidently reeled off the first six points, building that to a 9-1 lead. Two kills from sophomore middle hitter Taylor Fleming increased the lead to 11-2. After two points in a row for Pellston the Hurons won a point to put the ball in the hands of senior Mary Brege. She delivered two aces and junior Kayla Rabeau smashed a kill to make the lead 16-6.

Pellston eased back into the game with a run to make it 17-12 and later a second run to cut the lead to 19-16. That momentum ended with a booming kill from Taylor Fleming, off a set from Hannah Fleming, and an ace from Erika Peacock.

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Senior left hitter Hannah Dittmar launches a shot past a Pellston defender. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

The Hornets won the first point of the second set and the game was tied 10 times before Rogers City closed it out. With the Hurons trailing 21-20, Rabeau had a kill and an ace and Taylor Fleming added a smash through the middle to give Rogers City a 23-21 lead. After losing a point on a block, which went out of bounds, Rogers City got the serve back after a Pellston error. Peacock’s set and Taylor Fleming’s kill closed out the game, giving Rogers City a 2-0 lead in the match.

“You let them in one game and it can be anybody’s game in that third game. I wanted to take those first two games because I feel that gives us a mental edge,” Quaine said about winning the second set.

A CONFIDENT team won the first nine points in the final set, as Rabeau served up tricky floaters from the service line. Pellston managed to score two points in a row only twice in the third set.

“Every level you go up it gets tougher. It is really nice that we have taken them in three, but it is getting tough. We have to keep on top of our defense and have those hitters staying aggressive,” Quaine said. “We are going to stick with our game plan and what ‘s been working. We are not going to get crazy and switch things up. This is what’s working and this is what we are going to stay with.”

Jayna Hance makes an attack from the back row. She led the team with 17 digs as the team's libero in Thursday's regional championship game. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
Jayna Hance makes an attack from the back row. She led the team with 17 digs as the team’s libero in Thursday’s regional championship game. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

Taylor Fleming had 17 kills and 3 blocks and Rabeau added 10 blocks and 12 digs. Hannah Dittmar had 3 kills and 11 digs and Jayna Hance had 17 digs. Saige Wagner had 9 digs while Peacock and 13 assists and Hannah Fleming had 8 assists. Mary Brege contributed 13 digs.

Game time is 7 p.m. Tuesday at Engadine High School, a 112-mile drive from Rogers City and about a 165-mile drive from Crystal Falls in the western Upper Peninsula.

Head coach Jackie Quaine (at right) talks strategy with assistant Megan Przybyla during a timeout at the regional final. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
Head coach Jackie Quaine (at right) talks strategy with assistant Megan Przybyla during a timeout at the regional final. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

THIS IS Quaine’s third opportunity to coach a team in the state quarterfinals. In her previous stint as head coach from 1996-1999, when her teams went 141-43-23, the 1997 team lost to Elkton Pigeon Bayport in a match played at Traverse City Central High School. She coached junior varsity for several years before returning to varsity in 2012. Overall her teams have a record of 296-102-34 during her nine as a coach winning five district and three regional titles.

In baseball they say "you can't hit what you can't see." That applies to the slams of Taylor Fleming, here shown lining up a smash for a Huron point in the regional finals. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
In baseball they say “you can’t hit what you can’t see.” That also applies to the slams of Taylor Fleming, here shown lining up a smash for a Huron point in the regional finals. (Photo by Richard Lamb)

Junior middle hitter Erin Fairbanks, who made third-team all-state, and junior Lindsey Lawes, an honorable mention all-stater as a setter, led the 1997 quarterfinal team. Other members of the 1997 squad, which played in the spring, were Leah Quaine, Kari Claus, exchange student Valeria Vidal, Heather Witucki, Katie Ries, Ellen Wickersham, Melissa Dembny, Crystal Streich, Logan McLennan, Gabe Centala, Gabe Maggi and future reality television star Melissa Fleis, a junior left-hitter on the squad.

The quarterfinal winner advances to the state semifinal round November 18 at 2 p.m. at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek to play the winner of the Auburn Hills Oakland vs. Portland St. Patrick match to be played at Lake Fenton.

The other quarterfinal matches feature Mendon against Plymouth Christian at Climax Scott High School and Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart up against defending state champion Leland at Buckley High School. The state final game is 10 a.m. November 19.

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