GAYLORD-Katie Placek and the Traverse City West volleyball team picked up right where they left off against Alpena.
Nearly three weeks after sweeping the Wildcats in Alpena, the Titans got the better of Alpena again on Tuesday, sweeping the Wildcats, 25-11, 25-5 and 25-12 during a Class A district match at Gaylord High School.
There wasn't much the Wildcats could do to overcome the play of Placek who did a bit of everything in the Titans' win, finishing with 11 kills, five and a half blocks, 13 digs and four aces.
News Photo by James Andersen
Traverse City West’s Megan Traines (6) hits the ball over the net as Alpena’s Ami Milligan (2) and Brenna Bourdage (8) jump up to block during a Class A district volleyball game on Tuesday at Gaylord High School.
Alpena head coach Melissa Doubek was pleased with some aspects of Alpena's play, but said there wasn't much her team could do to fend off Placek.
"As far as passing and defensive digging, we did fairly well tonight and we did a good job backing up our hitters, but 11 was pretty much a wall," Doubek said. "She was everywhere so that kind of shut us down."
From the beginning, Alpena had a hard time getting many attacks past a handful of West players who used their height to their advantage most of the night to block shots. Alpena found many of its attacks blocked and turned into easy points for the Titans. West finished with eight blocks as a team.
West built a quick 10-3 lead in the first game and cruised the rest of the way, thanks to its strong front row, which set up a number of plays Alpena couldn't return.
Megan Traines had six kills and three digs for West and Anna O'Hara had nine kills. Mattison Mokanyk, who set up many of the Titans' attacks, had 20 assists. Courtney VanHouzen chipped in with five kills, five aces and seven digs.
Alpena was dealt a blow in the second game when Brenna Bourdage went down with an ankle injury with West leading 5-1. Bourdage returned for the third game, but the Wildcats struggled in the middle frame, gaining points on rare mistakes by West. They were still unable to slow down Placek, who took it to Alpena from everywhere on the floor.
During timeouts, Doubek attempted to change Alpena's offense, to focus more on outside hitting, but it didn't seem to affect the Titans much and the Wildcats had trouble landing outside hits.
"We were supposed to be hitting outside of the blockers and we kept trying to cut that and you can't," Doubek said. "When you've got a blocker like that (in Placek), you've got to hit up and around and we didn't do that."
Emma Strong led Alpena with six kills and Bourdage had five along with eight digs. Taylor Genschaw added two kills and Alie Sherwin had nine digs.
Even with Bourdage back in the lineup for the third game, the Titans still jumped out to a commanding 11-2 lead and kept the pedal down for the remainder of the game. Alpena got a small dose of momentum later in the match when a pair of kills from Strong sparked a brief 4-1 stretch for the Wildcats to bring the score to 17-8. O'Hara and VanHouzen quickly tipped the game back in West's favor and the Titans eventually completed the sweep.
West will play Traverse City Central on Saturday at 1 p.m. after Central bested Marquette on Tuesday.
Though the loss ended Alpena's season, Doubek was proud of the way her team played throughout the year and pointed to the consistently strong play of Alpena's seniors-Bourdage, Sherwin, Ami Milligan and Nicole Ross.
"We had a great season. We ran a lot of quick offenses and all our seniors we really tough this year," Doubek said. "I didn't expect the score to be what it was tonight, but Traverse City did a great job blocking."