By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
LAKE ORION — It was a nail biting, heart pounding finish to the end as the Clarkston Varsity Volleyball defeated Lake Orion in a OAA Red battle last Thursday, 3-0.
The Wolves took the first two sets of the night 25-18 and 28-26.
“We came out really ready to go maybe almost too high,” said Ali Smith, head coach for Clarkston. “We got that early lead. We have really been working on it, but I think we got a little complacent for a while.”
“We were very flat starting out in the first set,” said Tony Scavarda, Lake Orion head coach. “Some of our players we count on for certain things just didn’t have it going tonight. We picked it up better in the second and third sets but not to the level we would normally play.”
Lake Orion opened the third set with two points. They built onto their lead with hits from Devin Brunk and Charlotte Peplowski until Clarkston called a time out with Dragons leading 10-4.
Coming out of the time out, the Wolves closed the lead with points from Rylee Hunt, Addison Newblatt and Marlie Smith. Clarkston was one point behind when Lake Orion called the next time out, 15-14.
“They are an incredibly well coached team,” Smith said. “Tony always throws out everything he can think of which is sometimes you never know what you are going to get with them. On top of the fact that this rivalry runs super deep for both schools.”
The Dragons jumped to a two point lead before Cayla Cogan and Newblatt scored two points to tie, 16-16. Seconds later it was tied 17-17 and the Dragons began to pull ahead again with hits from Brunk and Lilah Eliassen, going up 24-20.
An error on Lake Orion’s end brought Clarkston up a point before M. Smith scored three consecutive points to tie the set, 24-24.
“She has been an old soul for awhile now and her team feels like she doesn’t play like a freshman,” Smith said. “I think that really showed in the last few points in the last five points in that third set.”
Eliassen bought Lake Orion up to 25-24. Seconds later, errors on both ends of the court put the score 26-26.
“We were in a great position and we made some key mental mistakes at the end of that third set,” said Scavarda.
Cogan had a kill to bring the Wolves into the lead, 27-26 before they won the third set 28-26 when Lake Orion’s return hit went out.
“We haven’t seen a lot of teams that have pushed us a lot lately,” Smith said. “How they responded in that third set was pretty spectacular. I have to give Devon credit. She’s a gamer. She’s great defensively. She caught fire as the match went on, and we had to make some adjustments. I am really proud of our kids for making those.”
Cogan had 11 kills. Newblatt had nine kills. M. Smith had ten kills and 15 assists. Emery Kuebler had three aces and 15 assists. Kiley Gallagher had seven assists.
“Marlie had a great game,” said Smith. “Cayla had an excellent game. Morgan (Lozzi) did a lot for us in serving and from the service line putting a lot of pressure on them.”
She added having a mix of setters on the team has helped.
“It’s great for us,” Smith said. “It gives us some more options from the blocking perspective. It gives us the ability to spread our offense a little bit more. I have to give credit to Emery because she is battling everything we have been asking her to do and has been absolutely phenomenal for us.”
Clarkston finished the week going 4-0 in the Power Series on Saturday. They went 2-0 against Lake Orion, Mercy and Saline; and 2-1 against Howell.
“We have overall been very consistent with our approach to practice and improving,” Smith said. “We know to beat teams at the highest level we’ve really have got to pay attention to details. They’ve really been working on their discipline and taking big steps to do the small things that end up being difference makers.”
The Wolves (25-2) opened the week against Bloomfield Hills.
“Each team is more competitive,” said Smith. “Any night it can be anyone’s match. We get a lot of people’s best nights based on the rankings in the state. Some teams come out because they’ve got nothing to lose. We are going to get everyone’s best effort every single night in and out. We know that. We have to be prepared and we have to take care of our side of the court.”
The Wolves opened the week against Bloomfield Hills. They head to Oxford on Thursday, 7 p.m.
By Wendi Reardon Price