Onaway’s season ends with quarterfinal loss to Carney-Nadeau

MANISTIQUE — At the beginning of the season, Onaway had a goal set to get to Battle Creek for the first time since 2014.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, their quest for another final four appearance came up just short as Onaway lost a heartbreaking five set match to Carney-Nadeau, 22-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20 and 15-9.

“They (Carney-Nadeau) were a quality team. They played good defense and they were a lot like us,” Onaway coach Steve Watson said. “We started off good, but they made some runs throughout the match and we made some poor decisions along the way. We just didn’t step up enough and didn’t play our best.”

The Cardinals found themselves battling from behind most of the night and in the end just couldn’t string enough plays together to win another five set match.

After holding Carney-Nadeau off in the second set, the Cardinals battled back to take the fourth and force a fifth and deciding set.

Trailing 9-2, Onaway found themselves in another hole, but this time the Cardinals were unable to make a comeback and the Wolves put an end to Onaway’s postseason run.

“The fourth set looked bad for a while because we fell behind, but we got back back in it and gained momentum going into the fifth set,” Watson said. “I’m not one who believes just because you win the fourth set you have the advantage in the fifth, it’s just a new game. We started off well in the fifth set, but made some bad plays, fell behind and we had some opportunities that we didn’t see.”

Senior Calley Selke set a new school record for kills in a match with 24 breaking the previous record of 23 held by Lexi Szymoniak. Selke also had 19 digs and two blocks. Mallorie Neelis dished out 39 assists which was the second most in a match in school history.Neelis recorded 28 digs, sex aces and four kills. Kennedy Crawford finished with 22 digs, nine kills and seven aces. Breya Domke added 19 digs, 12 kills and three aces. Jordan Larson had 23 digs, Jackie Sellke finished with seven kills, Sunny Flory had four digs and Malaurie McLean chipped in with 12 digs, four blocks and three kills.

Despite the loss, Onaway put together a magical run this postseason and accomplished many goals throughout the course of the season, including a Ski-Valley Conference and Presque Isle Championships, along with district and regional titles.

“The girls set goals and we accomplished most of them. The one goal that we didn’t accomplish was getting down to Battle Creek,” Watson said. “We put in time and we had to, because this wasn’t a team with one dominant player. We put in time and did what Onaway volleyball is known for and it was a hard working group. It’s nice to be able to remember this year on a banner years from now and look back on those good things, but right now it’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

The Cardinals will lose just three seniors in Crawford, Selke and Flory. Onaway will return a loaded junior class along with some underclassmen who all have gained plenty of experience this season which has the future looking bright for Onaway volleyball.

“I hope all of this motivated the girls. It was all new to them this year, but having assistant coaches and myself who have experienced pressure situations is invaluable,” Watson said. “I think now they will have an understanding of what it takes in those moments. They’ve bought in and I think the kids coming back will have a greater appreciation of being in these big moments. The cupboard isn’t bare and I think the girls like the taste of winning and they won’t be satisfied. I know next season is a ways away, but come August, I’m sure the girls will have the same goal to get down to Battle Creek.”