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Two Northeast Michigan teams move on to regional playoffs

November 5, 2012
BY ERIC BENAC , The Alpena News

Two area volleyball teams remain standing in the state tournament. Both Onaway and Mio return to action tonight, with Onaway traveling to St. Ignace and Mio playing in Mount Pleasant.

The Onaway Cardinals won their district championship against Posen on Thursday. It now moves on to the regional championship in Saint Ignace today at 5:30 p.m. and will face Pellston.

Onaway is ranked No. 3 in the state, and it has plenty of experience against their rivals Pellston, according to head coach Steve Watson.

"We've faced them three times this year and we've beaten them twice. We know them really well and they know us really well. It should be a very interesting match," he said.

The Cardinals are using this knowledge of their opponent to their advantage, focusing on practicing against areas where the Hornets are strong and exploiting their weak areas.

"They have some really good outside hitters as well as an excellent middle hitter. We're doing a lot of practicing to combat that as well as practing a lot of serving and serve receiving," he said.

Watson believes that controlling the serve is key to winning the match.

"Whoever controls the serve has a huge advantage. We're trying to master that skill and increase our consistency. The girls are very high intensity and are not going to give up," he said.

In spite of never beating Pellston in the regionals, Watson has high expectations for the Cardinals based on their success this year, especially against the team's that make up the regional this year.

"Every year we've gone to regionals we've been the underdogs. That's never worked to our advantage. This year, we've beaten every team in the regional at least once. It feels really good to be in this position and the girls are very positive and excited about their chances at winning," he said.

The Mio Thunderbolts travel to Mount Pleasant today to face Beal City in the regionals. Beal City is currently No. 3 in the state but this does not phase Thunderbolts head coach Becky Smutek.

"We're definitely the underdogs but we were the underdogs two years ago when we made it to the (regional) finals against Pellston. Anybody can beat anybody at any time," she said.

Smutek is not simply ignoring the threat of Beal City. She is perfectly aware that her team is facing some tough competition.

"They'll definitely be the toughest team we've faced this year on our quest for the state championship. We've seen tough teams in our tournaments but not really in our district. It'll definitely be a challenge but we're looking forward to it," she said.

The Mio and Beal City game is tentatively scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. but may be earlier or later depending on the speed of the previous game. It will play 30 minutes after that game is finished.

 
 

 

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