Hurons humbled in semifinals

Rogers City ends season with loss to Plymouth Christian

News Photo by James Andersen Rogers City junior Sarah Brege, left, comforts freshman Kristin Brege after a Class D volleyball semifinal on Thursday at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. Rogers City lost to Plymouth Christian in four sets.

BATTLE CREEK — The Rogers City volleyball team finally met its match.

Despite a valiant effort, the Hurons couldn’t keep up with Plymouth Christian’s offensive firepower and saw their season end in a four-set loss to the Eagles in a Class D semifinal on Thursday at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

Plymouth Christian won 26-24, 25-15, 22-25 and 25-21. The top-ranked Eagles advance to play Fowler in the Class D title game at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

After a wild run through the postseason in which they were often the aggressor, the No. 8 Hurons found themselves overmatched by the Eagles, who recorded 54 kills in the victory.

Sisters Grace and Gabriella Kellogg led the way for the Eagles. Grace, a senior, had 17 kills and Gabriella, a sophomore, had 16. Elise Miera added nine.

“I am just very proud of this team. We have fought really hard to get to this point and it’s not for the lack of effort. There’s just great competition by the time you get down here,” Rogers City coach Jackie Quaine said. “We gave them a good game and I am very, very thankful for that. I just think we got outplayed. They’ve got a very well-balanced team.”

The Hurons staved off elimination in the third set, scoring four of the last five points out of a 21-21 tie. A service error on the first volley out of a timeout gave the Hurons the ball back and the Hurons took advantage of a service error and an attack error before Kyrsten Altman recorded a kill for set point.

Rogers City fell behind 8-2 in the final set, but did everything possible to keep its season alive. The Eagles led 19-13 late in the match, but the Hurons battled back to make it 19-17 thanks to some heads up plays. An ace from Kristin Brege and kills from Kayla Rabeau and Shawna McDonald helped close the gap and the Hurons pulled closer, 20-18, when the Eagles were penalized for stepping over the service line on a serve.

Ultimately, it was Plymouth Christian’s offense that proved the difference. Gabriella Kellogg and Miera both had kills late and despite a late service error to make it 23-21, the Eagles scored the last two points to win the match.

“We were trying double blockers in the middle and trying to shut that middle down a little bit. On our defense, we let our blockers pull in a little bit and play on that line, but they went very hard on that line,” Quaine said. “We haven’t met very teams that can do that consistently.”

Taylor Fleming led the Hurons with 17 kills and added four digs. Rabeau added 13 kills and 20 digs. Jayna Hance had 15 digs and Brege had 31 assists.

Plymouth Christian coach DJ Kellogg praised the Hurons’ efforts after the match. Despite the loss, Rogers City is just one of two teams to take a set from the Eagles in the postseason.

“Great team. I can’t say enough. I was talking to the coach about it and we’re blessed to live in an area where we can play a lot of great competition and they don’t get that option as much as we do unless they’re traveling,” Kellogg said. “Being against good teams, we’re not afraid to lose.”

Rogers City got an up close and personal look at the Eagles’ offense early in the match as both Kellogg sisters came out hitting hard. The Hurons for their part stayed right with Plymouth Christian and took a 4-2 lead early in the opening set after blocking the Eagles’ attacks and matching them on offense.

With Rabeau and Fleming keeping the Eagles defense honest, the Hurons were able to take a 16-10 lead midway through the first set and later pushed it to 20-14.

With the pressure on, the Kellogg sisters came up big. Grace had two kills and a tip as part of a four-point run to make it 20-18 and Gabriella recorded a kill and a block as part of another four-point run to tie the set 22-22.

Rogers City used an attacking error, an ace from Fleming and kill from Rabeau to take a 24-23 lead, but the Eagles rallied again and scored the final three points to pull out the win.

Rogers City started hot in the second set, taking an early 6-3 lead. Kellogg stormed back with a fury however, scoring nine consecutive points to take a 12-6 lead. Though Rogers City kept it close for a few more volleys, the Hurons couldn’t slow the Eagles offense as both Kelloggs, Miera and Caitlin Warnshius rotated hard attacks at the net.

Despite a second consecutive loss in the semifinals, Quaine was very happy with her team’s effort. After finishing the regular season with a North Star League title and an eighth place ranking in the Class D standings, the Hurons went on a tear in the postseason. To reach the final four, the Hurons left No. 5 Onaway, No. 2 Leland and No. 10 Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart among others in their wake and won two matches that went a full five sets.

“We are extremely ecstatic about that because I tell you what, there was a point and time where my captains and I, we cried because we didn’t think we were going to make it out of districts this year,” Quaine said. “To be here at the final four, it’s just really a happy moment for me.”