Alpena gets it done

Wildcats overcome uneven play to sweep Gaylord

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena’s Jade Gray (8) attempts to hit a ball past Gaylord defenders Mikenna Kwiatkowski (12) and Mikayla Ealy during the first game of a Big North Conference volleyball match on Wednesday at Alpena High School.

After the first set of Monday’s Big North Conference match, Alpena High volleyball coach Melissa Doubek implored her team not to let up.

The Wildcats didn’t turn in a perfect performance against Gaylord on Monday, but their persistence and ability to pull away down the stretch in each game allowed them to sweep the Blue Devils–25-13, 25-22 and 25-17–and even their Big North record.

Alpena was previously swept by Traverse City Central last Wednesday.

Edie Zann and Kate Skiba each had 10 kills for Alpena in the win over Gaylord and Alpena overcame some early serving struggles to down Gaylord.

“We worked really hard the last couple days on hits down the line and being able to dig balls up in the back row as well as being able to consistently on our serve reception. (Tonight it) worked out, but I’m disappointed in our the consistency of our serves,” Doubek said. “We always work on that, (but) it’s always a problem. We either come out strong and serve a lot of aces…but then we have way too many errors.”

Oddly enough, it was strong and consistent serving that ultimately propelled the Wildcats to a sweep. Clinging to a 6-5 lead, the Wildcats went on an 8-0 run. Skiba had three aces during the run and Alpena’s serving proved enough to pull Gaylord out of its rhythm. Alpena eventually pulled ahead 19-7 as the Blue Devils struggled with their serve receive.

“If we take them out of system on that first ball over with the serve, that’s going to help us when we’re playing Traverse City or Cadillac to get them out of system so they don’t set up for a big attack,” Doubek said.

Zann added two aces and three blocks for Alpena on the night and Skiba finished with seven aces. Macy Dickinson had 23 assists and three aces and Allie DeRocher had four kills and three aces. Mackenzie Precord added five digs on defense.

The Wildcats got off to a fast start, scoring the night’s first four points, ultimately starting the opening game on a 13-2 run. Gaylord scored consecutive points just twice in the first game before Alpena took the win.

Attacking and service errors allowed Gaylord to take an early lead, but as quickly as the Blue Devils took a lead, the Wildcats snatched it back after Gaylord errors. The Wildcats eventually tied the game 18-18 and scored the next five points to take the lead for good. Gaylord attempted to rally back late, but kills from Skiba and DeRocher allowed the Wildcats to finish the game off.

The Wildcats return to action next Wednesday when they host Cadillac. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Alpena’s JV team prevailed over Gaylord in three sets on Wednesday–21-25, 25-16 and 25-17. Allie Urlaub led Alpena with 12 assists and 12 aces. Lanie Morgan had six kills, Alayna Trelfa had six blocks and Macy Schram had 11 digs.