Wolverines advance past Mustangs

Todd Rose | Daily Press Mid Peninsula’s Landry Koski (7) blocks a shot from Munising Monday during an MHSAA DIvision 4 District Volleyball opener in Garden Corners.

GARDEN CORNERS — The Mid Penisula Wolverines will advance to the next round of the 2021 MHSAA Division 4 District 100 tournament after defeating the Munising Mustangs 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-23) Monday night at Big Bay den Noc school in Garden Corners.

After taking the opening two sets — the first in controlling fashion, the second was close throughout and sealed with a four-point service run from Landry Koski that included three aces — the Wolverines fell behind in the third being down 19-11 at one point.

“That third set, we came extremely flat, but the girls didn’t give up, obviously,” said Wolverines coach Emily Kayser. “They had to fight to dig themselves out of that almost 10-point difference, and they didn’t give up.

“They are really aiming for a three-peat for districts and right now they are fighting for it.”

Thanks to a service run helmed by Josei Hemminger, the Wolverines bridged the gap to tie the game at 19.

Moments later — with the score tied at 23 — eighth-grader Claire VanDamme made a nice play to put the ball down in play and score for Mid Pen. She stepped up to the service line next and put a solid serve in play which allowed Koski to make the game-sealing play moments later on a block that forced the Munising players scrambling to make a return.

While the Mustangs made contact with the ball, it sailed out of bounds, giving the Wolverines the victory.

“Claire VanDamme, this is her first time up on varsity playing,” said Kayser, “And she stepped up to the assignment for districts and everything. She knows the assignment, she knows what needs to be done and she was a great extra force at the net to go along with Landry.

“Landry was very strong at the net, and Josie had that awesome service net at the net. All around, a great team effort but Landry and Claire making the net their assignment and Josie coming through with the serves for us, I couldn’t ask anything else from these girls.”

The Wolverines move on to face the North Dickinson Nordics Wednesday, again, in the Big Bay gymnasium.

“We haven’t seen them whatsoever at all, not even during regular season,” said Kayser. “It’s brand new territory for us, so we’re looking forward to it.

“Excited to get the win tonight, and we’ll take it point by point, set by set, and we will see what happens.”

Koski led Mid Pen in kills with 10, while Shae Lampinen had 10 assists, Kora Prater 24 digs and Hemminger seven aces to lead those categories.

Koski and Claire VanDamme each had four blocks at the net.

While the Wolverines move on, the season for the Munising Mustangs comes to a close.

Munising coach Josh Cole — who complimented Mid Pen and their ability to play to their strengths in serving and at the net — felt the team had a good game plan and was able to execute into the third set.

“We had a good game plan going, and in the third set, we started executing on offense, put pressure on them and built us a lead,” Cole said. “Then Mid Pen does what they do best. They started serving well again toward the end. Good serving teams usually prevail in high school volleyball.”

Monique Brisson and Emmy Crisp — who also had six kills — each put up 10 assists for the Mustangs while Logan Peters had had four aces. Skylar Campell also had five kills for Munising.

Cole mentioned players like Valerie Johnson as a big part of the Mustang’s hitting game but noted that the team’s offensive scheme helps spread the ball around and leads to more contributions from players.

“We do run a 6-2, so we spread the ball around. We like to try to use the right pin a lot,” he said. “So we spread the love around. Everyone contributes in a 6-2.”

With the season now over, Cole is proud of the Munising girls for how they’ve improved and battled through the adversity of the last two years.

“We had a big improvement from last year. Last year was a tough year,” he said. “A lot of the juniors went through that hardship. So, for them to come back their senior year and play well, fight to almost .500 for the season, I’m proud of all of them.

“And the seniors, they’ve been great role models through the last couple tough years.”


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