Rabeau helps Hurons top fiesty Hillman squad in semifinal

News Photo by James Andersen Rogers City’s Taylor Fleming, center, hits a ball past Hillman blockers Kristen Kenyon (7) and Anna Callender during a Class D volleyball district semifinal on Tuesday in Rogers City.

ROGERS CITY–Every time the Rogers City volleyball team needed a big play on Tuesday, Kayla Rabeau was there to deliver.

Rabeau had 22 kills, 16 digs, four blocks and more than a handful of big plays to help the Hurons get by Hillman in a Class D district semifinal at Rogers City High School.

Rogers City won 22-25, 25-13, 25-20 and 25-22. The win moves the Hurons to Thursday’s 6 p.m. final against Onaway.

In a match that was full intensity and back-and-forth drama, the Tigers gave the Hurons all they could handle. Hillman won the first set after a fast start and nearly forced a fifth set against a Rogers City team that is aiming for its third straight district title.

“They came out to play. Her (Hillman coach Amy Moir’s) program has just gradually been growing and she’s got a nice bunch of athletes that can really play,” Rogers City coach Jackie Quaine said. “We saw them over at conference (the North Star League championships) and they had it together.”

Hillman led 19-12 late in the fourth set , catching the Hurons off guard with strong play up front, good blocking and some well-placed shots. But with Rabeau patrolling the front row, along with Taylor Fleming, Rogers City’s fortunes changed in an instant.

A kill on the next volley gave Rogers City the ball back and the Hurons proceeded to score the next seven points–two of them coming on kills from Rabeau–to take a 20-19 lead.

After a timeout, Hillman scored the next three points on a net violation, an attacking error and an ace from Jozie Appelgren.

Another kill from Rabeau gave Rogers City the ball back again and from there the set belonged to the Hurons as they scored the next five points to win. A tip from Shawna McDonald gave Rogers City the game-winning point.

She plays so smart. She sees the open spots. She can get them and she’s just not afraid to hit that ball,” Quaine said of Rabeau. “That’s our go-to girl. When we need a side out, she’s the one.”

Rogers City’s comeback cemented a victory in which the Hurons rallied from an 0-1 deficit to win three straight sets.

Hillman came out firing to begin the match and led 8-3 early in the first set with Hillman scoring points on kills from Kristen Kenyon and a few others on net violations. Rogers City traded points with the Tigers back and forth and a block from McDonald tied the set 12-12 midway through the set. Hillman scored the next five points to take the lead back and continued to lead, scoring points as Rogers City’s struggled to shake off some early nerves.

Trailing 22-16, Rogers City got a late momentum swing led by Fleming and Rabeau. The pair combined to score five of the next seven points, scoring on blocks, tips, kills and aces to eventually tie the set at 22.

The two teams tied three more times in the set and Hillman eventually broke a 25-25 tie by scoring the last two points, the last one coming on a push from Kenyon.

Kenyon had seven kills and four blocks for Hillman and Lyndsey Ryba had eight kills and 14 digs. Appelgren had 13 digs and Alison Samp had 32 assists.

The Hurons rebounded with some force, taking a 12-2 lead early in the second set and building their lead from there. The two teams stayed close in the third set, but a late five point run by the Hurons proved to be the difference. With the set tied at 14, Fleming scored on a push, two blocks and a kill as part of the Hurons’ late run, putting the Hurons ahead for good.

Fleming had 12 kills, 10 digs and eight blocks. Catheryn Hart had five blocks for the Hurons and Kristin Brege had 32 assists. Maddie Hincka had five assists and McDonald had four aces. Hannah Fleming had three aces and 13 digs and Jayna Hance had 24 digs.