In the course of a volleyball match, a few points here and there can make a difference in a game.
When the Alpena High School volleyball team played Traverse City Central on Monday, it found this out the hard way.
The Wildcats lost the match 3-1 in a tight competition where the first three games went into extra points. The game scores were 25-27, 26-28, 26-24 and 11-25.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena libero Alie Sherwin bumps the ball during a volleyball match against Traverse City Central Monday at Alpena High School.
"I've never seen that," Alpena coach Melissa Doubek said. "Never once seen three consecutive games to into extra points. It was obviously quite a battle."
It was clear from the first game that both teams were evenly matched. They swapped points back and forth for most of the first game, keeping within one or two points of each other. At the end of the game, they were tied 24-24.
Central scored first, edging to within one point of victory. Alpena fought back to tie the game again before the Trojans scored two points in a row to win the first game.
The beginning of the first game saw similarly tight play. While her team was down 3-2, Alpena libero Alie Sherwin made a valiant effort to knock a wild hit back in bounds. She fell over her team's sideline chairs and onto the ground. She was successful in knocking the ball back in, but was injured and had to sit out the rest of the game.
Doubek believed this was the defining moment of the second game.
"When my defensive leader (Sherwin) got hurt, a lot of our momentum left us. It totally changed the pace of the game. I think if she hadn't of gotten hurt, we would have won that game and the match would have been totally different."
Alpena played sloppy after Sherwin's injury and eventually fell behind 10-5. Taylor Genschaw helped rally the Wildcats to within one, 10-9.
Genschaw had 23 digs and six kills on the night.
Another brutal back and forth scoring session brought the game to 19-18 with Central ahead. Genschaw served for a six-point scoring streak which brought the game up to 24-19.
Central answered back with its own six-point scoring streak to bring the game 24-26. After a hard fought series of volleys, Central won 26-28.
The close call seemed to awaken the Wildcats as they came out swinging in the third game. They led the game 13-4 midway through, thanks to an opening three-point scoring streak by Genschaw, a two-point streak by Brenna Bourdage and a two-point streak by Mikaela Overton.
Bourdage had 21 kills for the match.
Central answered back with a series of hard-fought points, including a five-point scoring streak by Paige Emmett who served hard and accurately all night, but Alpena pulled out the win at the end, 26-24.
Unfortunately, Alpena was unable to sustain momentum in the fourth game. Central began hitting hard spikes at Alpena that hit the floor too often for Alpena to counter. Emmett scored six consecutive points to give the Trojans the game and match.
Ami Milligan had 39 assists on the night for Alpena while Logan Meyers had seven kills and Emma Strong had eight.
Doubek was sad to see the fourth game go down so quickly but was not harsh on her team.
"It's disappointing but I'm very proud of how they played," she said. "There was a lot of intensity during the whole match and they never let up for a moment. They've improved a lot on offense. The passers are moving the ball to the setters who are setting up the big hitters to knock down points. We're never out of a match, no matter how far we're behind."
Alpena hosts Traverse City West next Wednesday.