ESCANABA - The Manistique Emeralds earned their turn to represent area volleyball teams in the semifinals of the Escanaba Elks Invitational Saturday, placing second in their pool.
Manistique, however, then fell to the Rudyard Bulldogs 25-15, 25-11.
"We felt we had a strong day in pool play, then we didn't play well in the semifinals," said Emeralds' coach Amy Nixon. "Rudyard came out with a couple good plays and we mentally shut down. A couple of our girls tried to get things going, but we definitely had problems with communication. There was some good competition here today, although we're definitely better than we showed in the semifinals."
Photo by Paul Gerard
Escanaba's Kathryn Wellman tips the ball over the net at the Escanaba Elks Invitational tournament on Saturday. Escanaba came out even, at 4-4.
The Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devis retained their title by topping Rudyard 25-14, 25-19.
Sault's Jackie Holt collected nine kills in the second set of the championship match. She finished with 69 kills and five blocks, leading the Blue Devils to their third title in four years.
"We lost three girls through graduation," said Sault coach Andre Fortin. "I thought it would take longer for somebody to step up and take a leadership role. But Jackie has filled the role as our go-to girl and Kylee Fitzpatrick has been our setter for four years. This team has been together for a few years and the girls push themselves real hard. Rudyard has a nice team. Ellen (coach Perry) does a great job with them. They're having a great year."
Manistique - Strasser (seven aces, 11 kills); Robinson (six aces, eight kills, one block); Giles (five aces, 16 kills, three blocks); Gonyea (five aces, six kills); Hinkson (five aces, 17 assists); Cook (seven kills).
Escanaba - Ettenhofer (five aces, six kills, 29 assists, 11 digs); Wellman (three aces, five kills, three blocks, six digs); Edwards (15 kills, six digs); Gafner (10 kills, 16 digs); Lantagne (five kills, three digs); Langsford (10 assists); Cook (22 digs).
Fitzpatrick collected 103 assists and 16 kills. Megan Jean had 38 kills and Ann Diepenhorst added 19 for the Blue Devils (29-3-1), who dispatched Marquette in two sets in the semifinals.
"We love coming to Escanaba and we love this tournament," said Fortin. "We make this an overnighter and have a great time."
For Rudyard, this marked its second straight runner-up finish in Escanaba.
"This is good preparation for the (Class D) district," said Perry. "Overall, we were more competitive this time, especially against Sault High."
Manistique fell victim to a pair of seven-point runs in the second set of its semifinal match, with Ashlee Bonnee helping Rudyard gain a 9-1 advantage and Kylie Ewald hitting four aces in her run which put the Bulldogs up 18-4.
Rudyard's Kayla Coffey finished the first set and started the second with kills.
In pool play, Manistique split with Esky (25-23, 23-25), beat Westwood (25-17, 25-15) and Ishpeming (25-16, 25-17) and fell to Sault (25-18, 25-17).
Manistique's Monica Giles collected 16 kills, three blocks and five service aces. Cayla Strasser added 11 kills and seven aces and Maryse Hinkson had 17 assists.
The Emeralds travel to Gwinn Tuesday.
Esky finished 4-4 in pool play, also splitting with Ishpeming (23-25, 25-23), sweeping Westwood (25-19, 25-15) and bowing to Sault (25-10, 25-14).
"Sault played extremely well today," said Esky coach Bron Harmon. "There's no quit in them at all. I'm glad they came. They tend to make the other teams play better. I thought we played well in the morning, then we struggled with serving against Ishpeming and played scared against Sault."
Alliyah Edwards paced the Eskymos with 15 kills and six digs. Sydney Gafner added 10 kills and 16 digs. Holly Ettenhofer recorded 29 assist and 11 digs and Ashley Cook had 22 digs.
It was a tough day for Gladstone as it fell to Negaunee (25-20, 25-15), Marquette (25-9, 25-14), Rudyard (27-26, 25-18) and Menominee (25-23, 25-14).
"This was just a poor performance," said Braves' coach Liz Gendron. "Our defense was sporadic and we had more errors than points. You don't win that way. We're looking for somebody to take control on the floor. We're just going to have to spend more time on the basics."
The Braves visit Esky Tuesday for a 7:15 p.m. match.