by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor
With a boom and thud, middle hitter Taylor Fleming put a cap on the regional championship match with her powerful kill through the heart of the Bellaire defense for match point. The Hurons (31-8-3) topped host Bellaire 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-16) to claim the school’s third consecutive regional championship.
The Hurons started flat in the first set, possibly due to bus-lag after a harrowing two-hour plus trip through a snowstorm on the way to Bellaire. Near whiteout conditions fell on the road between Gaylord and Bellaire, causing the bus to be delayed as it carefully made the trek across the state.
Bellaire went ahead 4-1 and led 6-3 before the Hurons tied it at 6-6. Maddie Hincka set up Kayla Rabeau for a kill and an error by Bellaire tied the score. Then Bellaire took a 10-7 lead thanks to two errors by the Hurons. Taylor Fleming loosened up the defense with four kills in a 7-0 Huron run.
But again Bellaire charged back into the lead at 19-17 after a block went out of bounds and a Bellaire kill found the floor. Then, trailing 20-18, Rogers City came alive in a 7-1 run to take the first set.
The Hurons never trailed in the second set, breaking out to an 8-5 lead after an ace serve by freshman setter Kristin Brege.
Brege called the number of Rabeau and Taylor Fleming in a 17-9 run to close out the first set. Rabeau crashed five kills and Fleming added five kills a block and an ace in the run as Brege consistently set up the Hurons’ two biggest offensive threats.
Bellaire tied the second set at 2-2, but then the Hurons took over, eager to get on the bus and get home with another regional trophy.
The Hurons attacked from all points at the net. Brege set up Rabeau and Fleming from the left, center and right sides to build a 14-10 lead. Two aces by Kyrsten Altman made the Huron lead 20-12. A hustling Huron defense, and a solid wall of blockers, gave Bellaire fits in the game.
A long serve earned Bellaire a side out before a 5-1 rally gave Rogers City a win in the second set. Rabeau rocketed a back row attack for point 21 and followed it with another for point 22. Taylor Fleming’s sinker-serve found the floor for an ace at point 23. Two errors gave the Hurons the final two points in the second set.
“The effort was great after we got off to a slow start. I think some of that was the ride over and getting acclimated. We played great ball at the net again. It is nice to be peaking at the right time of the season,” said coach Jackie Quaine.
Other than a five-point Bellaire rally with the Hurons leading 16-5, the third set belonged to Rogers City. Taylor Fleming’s kill to the baseline sealed the regional title for Rogers City.
Taylor Fleming led the team with 21 kills, 13 digs and four ace serves. Rabeau followed with 18 kills and 12 digs while Jayna Hance patrolled the baseline with 13 digs. Hannah Fleming added eight digs while Brege led the team with 32 assists. Hincka added five assists.
Rogers City now travels to Gaylord, (after the match was moved from the scheduled site of Buckley) to face Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart Tuesday in Class D quarterfinal action. Sacred Heart topped Muskegon Catholic Central 3-2 (25-20, 21-25, 28-26, 26-28, 15-11) for the school’s fifth consecutive regional title after taking out Pentwater 3-0 in the regional semifinal. Muskegon Catholic Central defeated No. 4 Forest Area in the regional semifinals.
The winner of the RCHS vs. Sacred Heart match will play in the state semifinals against the winner of the Kalamazoo Central quarterfinal featuring perennial power Battle Creek St. Philip and top-
rated Plymouth Christian Academy. That state semifinal match will be played Nov. 16 at 2 p.m.
The top half of the bracket features a quarterfinal match up between No. 7 Rudyard and Munising with the winner to play the winner of the Southfield Christian vs. No. 6 Fowler match. Winners there will square off in the noon Class D state semifinal Nov. 16.
The Class D state championship match is set for Saturday Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. All final four matches will be played at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
Charting the MHSAA Class D volleyball tournament
According to the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association’s last poll of the season, just four of the top ten teams are left in the tournament. Here are who is left and what happened to the top ten teams and the four teams who received honorable mention in the last poll before the tournament began. The Hurons are responsible for knocking out two of the top ten teams in Onaway and Leland.
- Plymouth Christian Academy—plays unranked, but multiple time state champion Battle Creek St. Philip in the Kalamazoo quarterfinals
- Leland—lost in five sets to No. 8 Rogers City
- North Adams Jerome—lost to No. 1 Plymouth Christian (3-0) in regional finals
- Forest Area—lost (3-2) to H.M. Muskegon Catholic
- Onaway—lost (3-1) to Rogers City in district finals
- Fowler—plays H.M. Southfield Christian at Goodrich quarterfinals
- Rudyard—plays H.M. Munising in Manistique quarterfinals
- Rogers City plays No. 10 Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart in Gaylord quarterfinals
- Lenawee Christian—lost to No. 3 North Adams in district finals
- Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart—plays No. 8 Rogers City in Gaylord quarterfinals