By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Independence Township — It was a traditional Clarkston and Lake Orion battle last Thursday as it came down to the final and fifth set in the MHSAA Volleyball Division 1 District 31 Championship.
The final set was close but with a hit from junior Cayla Cogan and a block, the Wolves took the last two points to win 15-13 the set and district crown.
“It’s highly competitive, highly emotional,” said Ali Smith, Clarkston Varsity Volleyball head coach. “We have not had one five-set match all season. It helps with our overall experience and resume and able to know we can overcome anything and whatever challenges lay ahead of us.”
Clarkston took the first set after a very close battle, 28-26. Lake Orion took the next two sets, 25-15 and 25-17.
“I don’t think we felt relaxed,” Smith said about after the third set. “In those moments to find the calm and the focus to be able to do your job speaks a lot of what these kids would be able to do.”
The fourth set opened with both teams close in score. Lake Orion pulled away by two points but four consecutive hits from senior Paige Giehtbrock put the Wolves into the lead. They held onto it to take the fourth set, 25-15.
“We just had to regain momentum and weather the storm,” Smith said. “Volleyball is about errors and momentum. If you have the momentum, it feels like you have everything. If you don’t have the momentum, it feels like you have nothing. We just had to weather the storm and then control our side more.”
Giehtbrock had 18 kills, 11 digs and two aces.
“This was a huge moment for Paige and I am so incredibly proud of her,” Smith said. “She’s put in so much work this season and when you can put in those moments it just shines through. It’s just amazing for those kids.This season we have been looking at different people at different times to step up.
Cogan had 16 kills and three blocks. Junior Emery Kuebler had 39 assists and nine digs. Junior Kiley Gallagher had 14 digs and two aces. Sophmore Morgan Lozzi had ten digs and sophomore Addison Newblatt had four blocks.
Smith added senior Annabelle Keller was great during the night.
“She stepped in when we needed somebody and had an incredible match. Emery made some great plays, saved some tight balls at the net at the end to give us a shot. I was proud of all of them.”
The Wolves defeated Waterford Mott in the first round, 3-0, 25-8, 25-6, 25-4. They defeated Oxford in the district semifinal, 25-13, 25-19, 25-18.
The Wolves played White Lake Lakeland in the regional semifinals on Tuesday. The MHSAA Volleyball Division 1 Regional 8 Final is Thursday at Lakeland, 7 p.m. The winner moves on to Quarterfinal 4 at SC4 Fieldhouse at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron on Nov. 15, 7 p.m.