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The end of the line

Alcona unable to finish in semifinal loss to Houghton Lake

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alcona’s Brooke Pagels and Rachel Layton (12) go up to block an attempted spike from Houghton Lake attacker Chloe Koupal (8) during a district semifinal volleyball match on Wednesday at Alcona High School.

LINCOLN — Two nights after pulling off a dramatic victory in its postseason opener, the Alcona volleyball team fought hard, but was unable to finish on Wednesday.

Alcona ran out of gas in each set as the Tigers had their season swept away from them as they fell to Houghton Lake in a Division 3 district semifinal, losing by scores of 25-20, 25-22 and 25-23.

Early in the match, Alcona had no answer for the Bobcats’ height at the net as Houghton Lake’s trio of Chloe Koupal. Macy Bisaballe and Kristina Smyk gave Alcona problems in the opening set. The Bobcats scored the first six points to grab an early lead.

The Tigers cut into the lead, but could never come all the way back as Houghton Lake held on to take an early lead in the match.

Alcona began to find a way to limit the Bobcats’ big three at the net and it was the Tigers who were on the attack early in the second set as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead.

Houghton Lake answered with four straight to tie the game and eventually took an 8-7 lead, but it didn’t last as Alcona scored five of the next six points to take a three point lead.

The second set was a rollercoaster ride for both teams as momentum swings went each way. Houghton Lake scored three unanswered to tie the game at 12 before the Tigers then scored five of the next six to grab a 17-13 lead.

Alcona held a four point lead, but the Bobcats had an answer and responded with four consecutive points to tie the game at 18 late.

The Tigers took a 22-21 lead, but it was the last lead they had for the set as Houghton Lake ended strong, scoring four straight points to end the set and take a commanding lead in the match.

The Bobcats carried the momentum they gained from the second set right into the third as they jumped out to an 8-2 after some strong early serving from Smyk.

Like they did all night, the Tigers continued to chip away at the lead and battled from behind through the early stages of the third set. Alcona caught fire after trailing 15-7 and lookiong sluggish in the early going.

The Tigers scratched and clawed, erasing an eight point deficit and took a lead after scoring 10 unanswered points behind the tremendous serving of Lily Bilbey. Alcona grabbed a 17-15 lead and put some pressure on the Bobcats and swung the momentum.

The two teams went back and forth the rest of the set, Houghton Lake took a 21-20 lead, but the Tigers answered with three straight to take a 23-21 lead and looked as if they were going to send the match to a fourth set.

Houghton Lake had other ideas.

The Bobcats once again finished strong and scored the final four points to end the set, win the match and end Alcona’s season.

Houghton Lake advances to Friday’s district championship match against Oscoda at 7 p.m. at Alcona High School.