Senior Night spoilers
Alpena volleyball team swept by Cadillac in home finale
Emotions were running high for the Alpena volleyball team on Wednesday night as six Wildcats played their final game in front of a home crowd.
Unfortunately for Alpena, the final home game of the 2018 season didn’t go as it hoped.
After coming out slow and dropping the first set, the Wildcats did everything they could to claw their way back, but lost two final heartbreaking sets and the match by scores of 25-10, 25-23 and 26-24.
“Any time you have extra stuff going on, it’s a challenge of your focus and a challenge of your emotions. We came out slow and took a while to get going, but the next two sets were very close and that just shows again the girls grit and fight,” Alpena coach Kolby Andrews said. “The girls were able to overcome the emotions of Senior Night and all of the other stuff going on and they put forth the best defense that they could. Out attacking was a bit slow tonight and I credit Cadillac’s defense for a lot of that, but we were getting a lot of opportunities and we just couldn’t finish them.”
It took a while for the Wildcats to relax and focus after walking onto the court for the final time and the Big North Conference-leading Vikings took advantage of Alpena’s emotion and cruised in the opening set.
Cadillac took a 9-3 lead early and continued to build on it. The Vikings used a 12-2 run late in the set to take a commanding 24-7 lead and put the Wildcats away with ease to take a lead in the match.
Nothing else came easy for Cadillac the rest of the night and the Vikings had to earn every point.
Alpena shook off a disappointing first set and rallied behind a rowdy crowd and gained some momentum after scoring five of the first seven points to take an early lead in the second set.
The momentum didn’t last long as the Vikings proved why they are tied for first place in the BNC and they scored six straight points to take an 11-10 lead.
From there, the rest of the set was back and forth with both teams tied at 19 late.
Cadillac scored two unanswered points to take a 22-20 lead and the Wildcats did all they could, but couldn’t tie the game back up and found themselves in a hole down 2-0 in the match.
“I’ve said it about every match we’ve played this year. These girls fight and we have not dropped many sets by a big margin,” Andrews said. “We have played some very good teams and we showed again tonight how tough we are by playing well against a Cadillac team tied atop the conference . These girls fight hard and no one gets a free pass when they play against us.”
The third set was much like the second, a back-and-forth battle.
Alpena scored six unanswered points midway through the set to take a 13-8 lead, but the Vikings once again put together a rally, going on a 6-1 run to tie the game at 14 apiece.
The Wildcats held a 16-15 lead moments later before Cadillac scored five straight to take a 20-16 lead.
Alpena got to within two, but the Vikings again responded with three straight of their own to take a 24-19 lead and come within a point of taking the set and match.
The Wildcats showed heart and clawed their way back thanks to some strong serving from Jade Gray and pulled to within one point of tying with four straight points to force a Viking timeout.
Alpena stayed alive, scoring the first point out of the timeout to tie things up 24-24, but it was Alpena’s final point as Cadillac scored the final two to close out the contest.
“I tell my girls all of the time that you can’t cover the entire floor at any given time. You need blockers to block some alleys and diggers to put themselves in position to get some of those tough balls and we really did a good job getting some key blocks throughout the night,” Andrews said. “When we were getting those blocks it made them move the ball around and they were moving it right to where our defense was. Again in this sport, I think your best defense is a good offense. If we were able to kill more of their attack opportunities, then they wouldn’t have necessarily got a chance to swing away as much as they did.”
The Wildcats were led by Alexis Pilarski who recorded 17 digs. Allison Precord dished out 11 assists, Gray had nine assists and two kills, Emma Dockrill finished with four kills, Adrianna Gumtow had five kills, Eden Zann added a pair of kills and blocks and Jessica Leeck chipped in with two kills.
Alpena falls to 2-7 in BNC play and the Wildcats will be back in action next Wednesday when they travel to Traverse City West.