Lumberjacks struggle to stop Grulke, Monarchs in season finale

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Shelby Seaver (14) attempts to hit a ball past Macomb defender Kaily Grulke during a college volleyball match on Saturday at Park Arena.

There wasn’t much the Alpena Community College volleyball team could do stop Kaily Grulke on Saturday.

The 6-foot-2 freshman recorded 27 kills and 18 blocks while leading the Monarchs to a pair of three-set victories over the Lumberjacks at Park Arena.

Macomb won the first match 25-11, 25-20, 28-26 and triumphed in the second match 25-13, 25-9 and 25-8.

Playing in its season finale, ACC showed plenty of fight during both matches, but couldn’t find an extra gear to get past Macomb. With Grulke leading the way, the Monarchs often built early leads the Lumberjacks had trouble rallying from.

Grulke established herself as a force early in the day, helping Macomb run out to a 9-2 lead to open the first match. That lead eventually grew to 16-6 and the Lumberjacks could find no rhythm while dropping the opening set.

ACC found its footing in the next two sets, but hurt its chances to win by giving the ball back too easily and playing too inconsistently. Too often ACC gained the ball back only to turn it over on an attacking error or a serving error. For every point ACC gained, the Monarchs seemed to score in bunches, particularly late in sets.

In the third set of the opening match, ACC rallied to tie it 17-17. The Monarchs scored the next three points, but the Lumberjacks showed some mettle and kept battling. After trading points for several rallies, ACC tied things up again, 24-24, after a kill from Shelby Seaver.

A ball hit into the rafters gave the Monarchs a 25-24 lead, but another kill from Seaver and a block by Taylor Livingston made it 26-25, giving ACC its first lead of the day.

It was 19 who came up big for the Monarchs again, slamming down a kill to give Macomb the ball back and tie the match. Macomb eventually wrapped things up as 11 recorded a kill and sent a tip past ACC’s defense for the final point.

ACC fell behind by a lot early in the second set and couldn’t erase an 11-point deficit late, despite a furious rally attempt. With Macomb leading 23-12, ACC put together an 8-1 run to pull within four, 24-20. ACC had plenty of momentum, but it came to a halt with a serve into the net to give Macomb the win.

Alpena’s stats from both matches were unavailable as of Monday night.