Wednesday's volleyball quad at Alpena High School was supposed to feature Alpena, Onaway, Cheboygan and Tawas, but when Onaway was forced to pull out at the last minute, it quickly became the Alpena Tri.
The tri was still proved to be fairly competitive: Cheboygan went 2-0 while Alpena beat Tawas and fell to Cheboygan.
Alpena (5-2) made quick work of Tawas in the first match, winning 25-11, 25-9 and 25-12. Unfortunately, one of the Wildcats' best players, Jordan Modrzynski, sprained her ankle during this match and was unavailable for the rest of the night.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena volleyball player Isabelle O’Neil (white) bumps a ball during a match against Cheboygan while teammate Lindsey Moggie backs her up during the Alpena volleyball tri-match on Wednesday. Alpena went 1-1, beating Tawas but falling to Cheboygan.
"It was very disappointing that within the first few points of the match, we lost one of our top players (Modrzynski)," Alpena coach Melissa Doubek said. "We had to switch people around and find new people in the middle."
Cheboygan then dismantled Tawas 25-10, 25-9 and 25-7 in the second match. The young Braves squad was somewhat inexperienced and filled with mostly sophomores this year.
The last game of the night was a back-and-forth battle between Cheboygan and Alpena that featured alternately effective play and disappointing mistakes.
In the first set, Alpena stayed tight with Cheboygan, sitting at 5-5 after 10 serves. However, a few defensive and offensive errors gave the Chiefs the edge as they moved to a 9-6 lead.
The Chiefs then staked a 13-6 lead with help from a pair of aces by Brooke Beaubien, but Alpena answered back to cut the lead to 13-11.
Alpena pulled ahead 17-16 during the serves of Olivia Cordes and stayed neck-and-neck with the Chiefs with Brianna Clark leading the way offensively.
Clark led Alpena with 11 kills while Cordes and Allison Heise had three aces. Heise and Isabelle O'Neil led Alpena in digs.
In spite of the setting support of Alexis Smith, Alpena couldn't pull off the win as a tip by Lyndsey Purcell gave Cheboygan the 25-23 win.
Smith had 40 assists.
The Wildcats came out strong in the second set, storming to an 11-5 lead. Offensive tips by Katie Mack and spikes by Moggie were key to Alpena's firm control of the second set.
Mack had 10 kills on the night while Moggie had nine kills and four aces. Erin Guy and Samantha Szymanski pitched in with had five each.
The Chiefs never had a chance in the second set as Alpena took a 25-17 win.
Things were going relatively smoothly for Alpena in the final set. Cheboygan held only a slim 5-4 lead, but a strange error by the Wildcats seemed to deflate their confidence.
During a serve, only five Alpena players took to the court. Doubek noticed and tried sort it out, but Alpena was charged with delay of game to give Cheboygan a 6-4 lead.
The confusion gave the Chiefs the confidence to pull ahead 12-6 and although the Wildcats would narrow the spread to 13-10, they scored only two more points as Cheboygan waltzed to a 25-12 win.
"After they only had five players on the court, they did not get mentally back into the game. You just got to let those things go and get back in, but we didn't do a good enough job getting mentally repaired," Doubek said.
The Wildcats face Onaway next Wednesday and then travel to Rogers City for a tournament next Saturday.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.