No trouble at all: Onaway dominates Pickford in regional semifinal

Onaway dominates Pickford in regional semifinal

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Onaway’s Kennedy Crawford (3) tips a ball past Pickford defender Bailee Stec during the first set of a Division 4 regional semifinal match on Tuesday at Mackinaw City High School.

MACKINAW CITY–The regional stage wasn’t too big for the Onaway volleyball team as the Cardinals put together a near perfect performance on Tuesday and earned their fourth sweep in as many matches this postseason, defeating Pickford 25-19, 25-12 and 25-8 at Mackinaw City High School in a Division 4 regional semifinal.

“We did some things that I said we needed to do in order to get us to the next match. We served tough, really well. I think our serve receive can be better, but I also think it’s one of our strong points and we do it better than a lot of teams,” Onaway coach Steve Watson said. “It helped getting to the gym early and seeing the crowds and most of these girls have seen this environment, they just haven’t been apart of it. We just need to continue going out and playing good inside the lines and we did that tonight.”

The Cardinals are a perfect 12-0 in sets in the postseason and the opening set looked familiar as Onaway got out to a big lead early, scoring the first eight points.

Midway through the first set, the Cardinals led by nine, but Pickford battled back scoring seven of the next nine points to cut the lead to four.

Onaway extended the lead to 22-15 late, but again the Panthers cut into the lead, but still found themselves trailing 23-19 before the Cardinals scored the final two points to take an early lead in the match.

Pickford held its only lead of the night early in the second set with a 2-1 lead, but the Cardinals once again went on a run and scored five straight behind strong serving from Kennedy Crawford who finished the night with seven digs, six kills and five aces.

Onaway held the lead the rest of the way despite the Panthers doing everything they could to get back in the game, but the Cardinals put on a flawless display of volleyball and used another six point run with stellar serving from Calley Selke who ended the match with 13 kills, nine digs and three aces.

The Cardinals scored nine of the last ten points to take a commanding lead in the match and take Pickford out of the match mentally.

“I think they (Pickford) checked out especially after we took the early leads. We controlled the match pretty well, jumped out to big leads and just kept going,” Watson said. “We did a good job staying focused tonight and not worrying about what’s going on outside the lines and I think that’s why we were so successful.”

Onaway put an exclamation point on a dominant performance by closing the match out with a lopsided 25-8 victory in the third and final set.

The Cardinals were led by Mallorie Neelis who fished out 22 assists, had seven digs, three aces and a block. Great Domke had three kills and a pair of digs, Sunny Flory added three digs and two kills. Jordan Larson chopped in with four digs and Malaurie McLean finished with five digs before leaving the match with an injury, but is expected to be back for tomorrow’s matchup.

Onaway advances to a regional championship game against No. 10 Rudyard who swept Pellston in the first game on Tuesday.

The Bulldogs will have a height advantage, but Watson likes his team’s chances heading into Thursday’s title game.

“We’re looking forward to it. They have a huge height advantage so we need to keep stuff out of the net and we do a good job of that and we need to continue serving tough and that will even the playing field,” Watson said. “They’re ranked ten and we’re honorable mention, but none of that matters. What matters is how good the teams are and I think we are capable of winning, we just have to go out and execute.”