By ERIC BENAC
News Sports Writer
LINCOLN-The Alcona volleyball team (2-0, 1-0 North Star League) beat Tawas on Monday in three sets, 27-25, 26-24 and 25-16, showing a noticeable play improvement between the second and third sets.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alcona’s Cassie Carpenter (5) tips the ball over the net against Tawas on Monday night. Alcona won in three sets, 27-25, 26-24 and 25-16.
"The girls played more consistently (in the third set) and it seemed like Tawas was very down. We started having some very consistent serves and the girls made the plays when it mattered. They weren't always pretty plays, but they made them," Alcona coach Kristi Arnold said.
The Tigers started the third set with a 3-0 score off the serves of Kalie Zerbst. Tawas narrowed the Tigers lead to 4-3, but Alcona ran off a five-point streak off the serves of Katelyn Nelson to take a 9-3 lead.
Nelson had 16 assists and three aces for the night, while Zerbst had 15 assists.
Tawas attempted to strike back against the streaking Tigers, but couldn't consistently score. It continued to make service errors, as well as errors during play. Alcona capitalized on these errors to pull to an 18-11 lead.
Along the way, the Tigers alternated a spike-based assault from Cassie Carpenter and Karina Cole, with a tip-based attack by Zerbst and Sierra Forsythe, a play where players tap the ball just over the head of defensive blockers.
"Karina Cole, Cassie Carpenter and Sierra Forsythe all had a great night on the net. Sydney Pierce really stepped up on defense, as did Sam Zerbst. They really kept us in the game," Arnold said.
Zerbst picked up seven digs, while Pierce had six. Karina Cole led her team offensively with 14 kills. Forsythe led her team with two blocks.
Zerbst made several diving saves that helped keep volleys alive, while Pierce bumped the ball forward to her attackers. Alcona rarely ran into trouble in the third set, on their way to a 25-16 win.
However, the first two sets were much more even. Alcona pulled to a 9-7 lead in the first set, off the serves of Cole. But, Tawas took the lead, 12-9, with five straight serves from Jordyn Look. The Tigers answered back with six of its own to take a 15-12 lead.
Just as the Tigers seemed to pick up a rhythm, though, it would commit an error. These errors helped give Tawas a 23-21 lead. Alcona fought to a 25-25 tie, giving Cheyenne Parkinson the chance to serve for two straight points for the Alcona win.
The second set of the match was another tight one, even though the Tigers took an early 6-2 lead. Tawas quickly answered back with four of its own points, to tie the game 6-6.
Alcona continued to be plagued by errors during the second set, such as watching the ball drop and positioning problems. These errors, compounded by two aces from Look and a kill from Abigail Anderson, gave Tawas a 15-11 lead.
The Tigers then scored nine out of the next 10 points, to jump ahead 20-16. During this scoring stretch, Nelson picked up an ace, while Carpenter picked up a kill.
Tawas answered back with its own scoring streak, with a bad serve from Alcona tying the game up 22-22. Back-to-back scoring between the teams kept the set tight, until the Tigers scored the last two points for the 26-24 win.
"It's a big win for us. Tawas is always a very competitive team and to play well against and beat them is always a big accomplishment for us," Arnold said.
Alcona hosts Au Gres on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.