Clarkston Volleyball clinches Final Four appearance

By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
— The Wolves swept the MHSAA Division 1 Quarterfinal 4 against L’Anse Creuse North at St. Clair County Community College, Nov. 14.
“I am thrilled,” said Clarkston Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Ali Smith after the 3-0 win. “That had been our goal. We have been talking about getting back there and advancing since quarterfinals last year. We felt like we had unfinished business, and the kids felt really good about what they accomplished.”
Both teams were tied 17-17 in the first set before the Wolves went on a serving run to take the set, 25-17.
During the next set, Clarkston was down 8-3. The players were not going to let the second set go to tie the game.
“We have this ability to look like we are out of it and then make a comeback,” said Smith. “We also know it’s going to be harder the farther we go in the tournament with the more challenging these teams are.”
The comeback resulted in a 25-21 win for the Wolves and put them up 2-0 going into the final set.
“As the match went on we served tougher and tougher,” Smith said. “I think they had a harder time handling that so we were able to get them out of system and really be able to do what we wanted to do with our offense and defense.”
Clarkston went on a 11-1 run to start the third set with three aces from senior Emery Kuebler. The set finished in a 25-11 win.
Senior Cayla Cogan had 12 kills, six digs and three blocks.
“Cayla had probably the best match of the year,” Smith said.
Freshman Marlie Smith had seven assists, six kills and six digs. Junior Addison Newblatt had nine kills and two assists. Kuebler had 24 assists, ten digs and four aces. Junior Isabelle Henry had six kills and three blocks. Junior Rylee Hunt had five kills. Senior Kiley Gallagher had 14 digs and junior Morgan Lozzi had five digs.
“Emery was very good,” Smith said. “Addison also passed very well and hit very well.”
The win put Clarkston (34-3) against Farmington Hills Mercy (30-15-3) in the semifinal last Friday, which the Wolves lost, 3-0.
It was the fourth time the two played each other this season. Clarkston defeated Mercy in August, 2-1. Mercy won the second next match up in September, 2-1. Then, the Wolves beat Mercy again in October, 2-0.
Smith shared Mercy junior Campbell Flynn is good.
“She is back and healthy,” she added. “So we are expecting their best volleyball. We are expecting that from everybody here on out. I think Campbell is very dominant. They have some good middles, some good outsides. We hope to continue to serve touch, control the tempo and control the pace ourselves.”
Smith added the Wolves match up with their own strengths.
“We have a very well rounded, very deep, very experienced team,” she said. “We can move pieces around and try to give everybody a different look that maybe they haven’t prepared for. We can run a 6-2. We can put a bigger block on the right side. We are pretty flexible and we can do a lot of things. I think that will help us. We have a lot of answers to different match ups and situations.”

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