Spikers finish run in district finals

Clarkston News Sports Writer
It was a heartbreaking end to the season as Clarkston Varsity Volleyball lost in the district final to White Lake Lakeland last Thursday, 3-1.
“It was obviously very disappointing,” said Ali Smith, head coach. “Lakeland played really well. They played harder than we did. It doesn’t matter what level you are at once you start playoffs if you make as many errors as we did, it’s really hard to win no matter who the opponent.”
The Wolves opened the first set taking the lead 6-1 before Lakeland caught up to them and they were battling for points.
The Wolves went on an 8-point run to gain the lead and with points from freshman Addison Newblatt and junior Paige Giehtbrock, they closed the set with a 25-14 win.

From left, Emery Kuebler, McKenna Hempton and Addison Newblatt celebrate a point scored by Newblatt in the first set. Photo by Wendi Reardon Price

The battle continued into the second set where Lakeland gained a lead but Clarkston closed in on them in points. Senior Eli Adams tied the score with a block, 21-21. The Eagles scored the next point and Adams tied the game again.
Clarkston pulled into the lead 23-22. Then, Lakeland scored the next three points to win the second set, 25-23.
Lakeland took the next two sets 25-22 and 25-21.
“Our errors came at poor times when you are trying to scratch and claw into a set,” Smith said. “You have to play really clean the last five points and we were not able to do that. Some things we really fought hard to get away from all season came back out. It really became difficult for us to get back in.”
Giehtbrock had nine kills, three aces and 11 digs. Sophmore Cayla Cogan had eight kills and three blocks. Adams had eight kills and five blocks. Newblatt had six kills and eight digs. Senior Summer Jidas had 11 digs.
Sophomore Emery Kuebler had five aces, seven digs and 32 assists. Sophomore Kiley Gallagher had three aces and 13 digs and junior McKenna Hempton had three blocks.
The Wolves defeated Waterford Kettering in the district semifinal game, 3-0, on Nov. 3.
“I thought we played really clean volleyball,” said Smith. “We left there that night feeling really good going into the finals. It was a good match for us.”
Clarkston finishes the season 34-12-3 overall record and 10-2 in OAA Red for second place in the league.
“We learned a lot,” Smith said about the season. “I thought we came a long way. I really enjoyed our upper classmen but I am really excited about the under classmen and the future of Clarkston Volleyball.”
She added this year was different.
“We had to remember we were a very different team than the previous year and starting from scratch,” Smith said. “To accomplish what Clarkston has over the years – you always have a target on your back. If you don’t show up to play, you will get beat. I hope it stings a little bit. It certainly does for me. You remember what it feels like and you come back with even more drive and motivation the following year.”
The Wolves graduate three seniors – Adams, Jidas and Ella Post.
“The seniors were a part of some really successful, motivated, driven teams,” Smith said. “We have big shoes to fill with them leaving. I think they are going to have great futures.
“I wish I had more time with them.”

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