OSCODA-The Alcona volleyball team had to fight tooth and nail with Mio on Wednesday, but it was able to pick up a five-set win against the Thunderbolts that will send the Tigers to the district finals in Oscoda at 6 p.m. on Friday against Houghton Lake.
Houghton Lake beat Tawas earlier in the night to take their spot in the finals.
"They're a good team, and we're looking forward to playing them. It should be real tough," Alcona coach Kristi Arnold said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Mio’s Whitney Kann (8) goes up for a hit against several Alcona defenders in a volleyball district semifinal in Oscoda on Wednesday.
Alcona won 25-10, 23-25, 15-25, 25-10 and 16-14.
The Tigers took quick control during the first set, riding to a 5-0 lead during the serves of Kalie Zerbst. Zerbst picked up an ace while Karina Cole picked up two kills.
Cole had two aces, 12 digs and 20 kills for the night.
Alcona fought to an 8-4 lead and then scored five straight points increase its lead. The Thunderbolts seemed to struggle to keep their shots in bound and suffered from timing errors.
The Tigers kept a nine point lead up to 15-6, but scored five straight points during the serves of Sydney Pierce to pull to a 20-6 lead. Pierce contributed several spikes against a struggling Mio defense.
Piece had two aces on the night.
"The first set, the girls came out real strong. They found the holes in Mio's defense and put the ball right where it needed to be," Arnold said.
It seemed to be business as usual for Alcona in the second set. At 2-2, they scored four straight points to go up 6-2. Cole was big during this streak, picking up four out of six points through hard spikes and well-timed tips.
The Thunderbolts fought back to within two points, but a later four point scoring streak took Alcona to a 12-6 lead. Alcona started making timing errors however and Mio played to a 16-16 tie.
With an 18-17 Alcona lead, Mio scored five straight points to take a 21-18 lead. Mio eliminated some earlier mistakes, but a few well-timed tips by Alissa Terpstra helped tie the game 22-22.
The Thunderbolts held off an improved Alcona attack to tie the match at a set each.
"Defensively, Mio stepped up big time (in the second set). They started to really cover the floor well and we couldn't get the ball past them," Arnold said.
Both teams came out hard in the third set. Hard hits by Cole and Katy Lefler kept the game close, with Alcona taking a 5-4 lead after nine volleys.
The Thunderbolts then stormed to an 22-8 lead by scoring 17 of the next 20 points, putting the Tigers in a deep hole.
Whitney Kann was Mio's main source of offense. She earned seven points total during the streak, including two kills, three tips and an ace.
The Tigers continued to have trouble with timing and communication. Often, two players would run for the ball with neither calling it, leaving the ball to hit the ground.
Alcona improved its play well enough to stage a five-point comeback attempt at 24-10. It was too little too late, as the Thunderbolts took the 25-15 win.
The Tigers had to play catch up in the last two sets and upped the intensity of their game and the effectiveness of their serving and floor coverage.
"In the fourth, we became more consistent in our serving. We started covering the floor a lot better and started putting the ball away a lot better," Arnold said.
The fourth set was a back-and-forth set for both teams. Alcona led by as much as six points at one point, with Mio staging a comeback.
However, more consistent play from players such as Sam Zerbst and Sierra Forsythe gave Alcona the edge in a 25-10 victory that forced the tie-breaking fifth set.
Zerbst had 14 digs for her team.
Mio came out hard in the fifth set, taking a 6-3 lead and sat only nine points away from the district finals. The Tigers were able to pull off a comeback and the game sat at a tense 14-14 tie before Alcona scored the last two points.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.