Going down fighting

Wildcats season ends with first round loss to TC Central

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena’s Emma Dockrill (16) has a spike attempt block by Traverse City Central defenders Jordan Burnham (14) and Maddy Goodwin (12) during the first set of district volleyball match on Tuesday at Alpena High School.

The Alpena volleyball team came into Tuesday’s district semifinal match against rival Traverse City Central with more on its mind than just the game.

Just a few days before hosting the first round district matchup, the Wildcats dealt with a coaching change and had to do their best to regroup, get focused and fine tune things before the Trojans came to town.

A familiar face came back to coach the team in its district matchup as Alpena volleyball head coach Melissa Doubek led the team onto the court Tuesday, but even as Alpena put together a valiant effort, Wildcats lost to Central in four sets, 25-27, 17-25, 25-17 and 20-25.

“I thought the girls played a nice, competitive match. We were a little down in the second set and didn’t play with the intensity we needed and we made a lot of mistakes, but there were some good things that came during the other sets,” Doubek said. “We made adjustments throughout the night and it helped us out at times, but we just made a few too many mistakes tonight that hurt us in the end.”

Both teams put on a strong display of what postseason action is all about as each team traded blows in what was a tightly contested opening set.

Alpena and Central were tied at 24 late in the game. The Wildcats earned the next point and were within one of closing out game one, but the Trojans rallied to score the final three points to take an all important lead in the match and gain some momentum.

“I thought we played really well in the first and it really could have went either way. I mixed some things up and did some things different and I thought our girls came out and played strong early,” Doubek said. “Traverse City had some good outside attackers and we did a good job blocking them in the first set and we played strong most of the night, especially early on.”

Central took the momentum it gained right into the second set and opened up a 13-6 lead midway through and never surrendered the lead despite a few Alpena rallies to get back into the game, but the Trojans held them off to take a commanding two set lead.

Despite being down two sets and losing a heartbreaker in the first set, Alpena showed no signs of giving up. The Wildcats trailed 15-14, but got some tremendous serving from Adrianna Gumtow who served eight consecutive points to help Alpena take a 22-15 lead.

The Trojans called two timeout during the stretch, but Alpena wasn’t slowing down and the Wildcats went on to score 11 of the last 13 points in the third set to stay alive in the match.

The fourth and final set was another closely contested battle as the two teams were again tied up midway through at 11. The Trojans rallied to score four straight, but Alpena responded by scoring five of the next six points to tie the match back up at 16. It was as close as the Wildcats got the rest of the night as Central closed the match out strong by scoring seven of the last 10 points to put an end to Alpena’s season.

“These girls battled back and we just made a few too many errors in the fourth game. Up to our final few points I thought we played good every match,” Doubek said. “We had to make some adjustments on Sunday and Monday to our offense, but our girls picked up on it quickly and this group has a lot to look forward to in the future.”

Alpena was led by Alison Precord who dished out 21 assists and had two aces. Gumtow added five aces. Allie Derocher had five kills. Tori Gentry ended the night with 20 digs. Alexis Pilarski had 14 digs and both Jessica Leeck and Emma Dockrill chipped in with seven kills apiece.