BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
It came down to the fifth and final set as the Lady Wolves battled for the MHSAA Volleyball Class A Regional title against Fenton.
Fans watched the close set and breathed for a moment at Anchor Bay High School when Clarkston pulled into the lead by three points, 11-8.
Fenton came back to get within one point and then pulled into the lead to win 17-15 and win the regional title, 3-2.
“We played right down to the end,” said Kelly Pinner, head coach for Clarkston Varsity Volleyball. “I congratulate Fenton on an awesome match. They played great.”
She added the Tigers was one of the best defensive teams the Lady Wolves had seen.
“They were just really scrappy,” Pinner explained. “Things normally our hitters were scoring points on all season long, they were somehow digging up. Just trying to get them to understand don’t let that frustrate you – just be patient. The first couple of games we played against them were a shock. We just hadn’t seen a defensive team like that all season long. It was something we had to adjust to.”
She added they also had Chloe Idoni, a sophomore outside hitter, they had to look out for.
“We tried to adjust on her and tried to adjust our block on her,” she said. “No matter what we did she found a way to score points. We had a real tough time against her. Fenton is going to make some waves the next couple of years.”
Clarkston won the second and third sets, 29-27 and 25-19, to take the lead in the game by 2-1. The Lady Tigers tied the series with their 25-17 win in the fourth set.
Senior Sarah Austin had 14 kills, 11 digs and three aces during the game. Junior Abbey Malinowski finished with 18 kills and senior Madi Jidas had 14 digs.
“Unless you are winning the whole thing, you end on that kind of down note,” said Pinner. “What really hurt our emotions on Thursday was this team had faith they could have gone a little bit further and deeper. They definitely had the talent to go deeper. We faced a tough Fenton team who stopped us from reaching that goal.”
Clarkston defeated Macomb Dakota in the semifinals for the fourth time this season going 3-0, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22.
“Anytime you can win in the playoffs it’s a big win,” said Pinner. “Dakota was a great team all season long. They were either ranked in the top ten or an honorable mention. It was a tough region we played in and getting in that first win was definitely nice.”
Malinowski led the team with 23 kills and 14 digs. Austin had 17 kills and three aces and Jidas had 15 digs.
Pinner explained it was a great season for the Lady Wolves as they finished with a 50-6 record, which is the second best record in school history. They also won four out of six of their tournaments including Beast of the East. They also gave Novi their only loss in the season.
“Winning a district over Lake Orion was huge because we had lost to them in league and lost to them last year in the first round of districts,” she added. “We have a lot of things to hang our hat on this year, a lot of things to be proud of. I know right now hurts but hopefully in a week or a year they can look back with fond memories of what they were able to accomplish and connection they made with their teammates.”
The Lady Wolves say goodbye to seniors Sarah Austin, Abby Horning, Sydney Jensen, Madi Jidas, Kayla Miller and Kelly Nickelson who graduate in June.
“The thing they did the best was even if they weren’t starters they found a way to lead,” Pinner said.
“That’s really hard because as a varsity athlete you want to be out on that court. They are at this level because they are good and they have been playing. Hopefully the girls next year as seniors will take a step further that you don’t have to be a starter to be part of this team and understand you are all important.”