Munising spikers top Wolves for regional crown
ISHPEMING — Things looked bleak for the Munising volleyball team during the MHSAA Class D regional championship match on Friday night.
The Mustangs dropped the first two sets to Carney-Nadeau and needed to make a huge comeback to keep their season alive.
With the help of some thunderous kills from Skyline Central Conference Player of the Year Kianne Wendt, some good communication and some raucous support from their fans, the Mustangs defied the odds and pulled off that comeback.
Munising outlasted C-N in the next two sets, then dominated the fifth set to defeat the Wolves 17-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-6 and lead to a large crowd celebration at center court.
The win moves the Mustangs into the state quarterfinals where they will face Rudyard in Manistique on Tuesday evening.
Munising head coach Ted Williams was proud of how his team kept its cool under pressure and turned the match around.
“It was hard enough just to keep myself focused,” he said with a chuckle. “I think I lost it a few times during the (match), but it’s one of those things where your team plays like their coaches.
“I tried to regain my composure and maybe they saw that. We were down in that fourth set and just kept chipping away at it. All of a sudden, we found ourselves tied with them. It’s just about staying focused and playing the game and trying to find a spot to put the ball.”
Wendt finished with 30 kills and four aces to lead the Mustangs offensively, while Emily Contreras had 38 assists.
On defense, Michaela Werner had four blocks and Marissa Ackerman 57 digs. Munising finished with 170 digs.
While the Mustangs celebrated, C-N sadly gathered their things after falling in a regional final again. Even though the outcome was disappointing, Wolves head coach Steve Kedsch talked about how hard his team fought to get out of its district and gave Munising a lot of credit.
“We thought we kind of had them for awhile, but we got a little hesitant at the end,” he said. “We let up a bit and weren’t as aggressive as we normally are.
“Our district was very tough this year. We were happy just to get out of there and to make the regional final, that’s good. We wanted to move on, but they’re a good team. They didn’t give up and kept coming at us.”
Sara Sivula had 11 kills for the Wolves, while Breanne Bedgood contributed four aces and 38 digs and Talisha McCullough had 21 assists.
In the first set, the Wolves used a short run including a nice block from Sivula to take a 16-10 lead. Munising tried to rally, but just about every kill attempt was dug out by C-N. The Wolves closed out the set with three straight points.
The second set was back and forth. Munising took an early 5-1 advantage, but a quick surge put C-N up 9-7. The teams traded leads until late in the set when the Wolves scored five straight points, including three aces from Bedgood.
Now in desperation mode, the Mustangs started to click offensively in set No. 3. Three kills in a row from Wendt gave Munising an 8-2 advantage. After C-N rallied to snatch the lead back on an ace by Talisha McCullough, the Mustangs rolled again as Wendt and Werner started to pummel the Wolves defense with kills. One final kill from Wendt pushed the match to a fourth set.
Early in the fourth set, it looked as if C-N was going to hang on as a block from Layla Blahnik-Thoune put the Wolves up 14-7. But the Mustangs refused to give up, cutting into C-N’s lead until it was tied 18-18 on a kill by Wendt. After taking the lead, Munising finished off the frame with three straight points.
“We have the three C’s — keep calm, cool and collected,” Wendt said. “We just kept repeating that to ourselves. That’s all you can do in that situation. We just went back to our fundamentals and kept at it. If we’re going out, we’re going out swinging.”
With the momentum clearly on their side, the Mustangs took control quickly in the fifth set. Three straight kills from Wendt helped Munising go up 9-2, and in a matter of minutes, the Mustangs completed their comeback.