BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
It was a traditional back and forth battle between the Lady Wolves and Lake Orion and when the dust settled it was Clarkston who claimed the MHSAA Volleyball District crown last Friday, 3-2.
“We couldn’t be happier with the outcome,” said Kelly Pinner, head coach for Clarkston Varsity Volleyball. “We knew it was going to be a tough match. No matter when we play Lake Orion, no matter what it’s for it is always a tough match. Our team played outstanding. We accomplished a huge goal we had for ourselves this year.”
The Lady Dragons won the first game with a 25-22 score and Clarkston came back in the second game to take the lead before the back and forth battle continued. It ended with the Lady Wolves winning the close match, 25-23.
They won the next match by a larger margin with 25-14 to get a one game lead on the Dragons.
Orion opened with a lead in the fourth game and Clarkston fought back to tie it at nine points and took the lead three points later. The Dragons captured the lead at 20-19 and finished to tie the series winning the fourth game, 25-21.
“For a brief moment they were disappointed they didn’t get it done in game four,” Pinner shared. “We had a lead, and we let them back in. We made unforced errors along the stretch that put us in that position. There was a fleeting moment of disappointment on their faces.”
She added before heading into the final game the team’s leaders, especially the senior leaders took a moment for a pep talk.
“They said ‘alright that’s over, let’s get this done in five,'” Pinner said. “They talked about going out there and just having fun and doing what they do best. They let go of the fourth game and tried not to think about it.”
Lake Orion opened with the lead before the Wolves took it away to put the score 9-8. They tied the score at 12 points before Clarkston pulled away with a three point run to win the game, 15-12.
Junior Abbey Malinowski led the team with 18 kills. Senior Sarah Austin had 15 kills and four aces and senior Madi Jidas had 27 digs.
Pinner added the win over Lake Orion helps going into regionals this week.
“It was a big, huge emotional win over Lake Orion,” she said. “It will definitely give us confidence moving forward. It put us in a good place in terms of understanding the pressure you feel when you are in big matches like that. I am expecting there is going to be a good crowd. Probably more Dakota because it is more by them. It definitely gave them experience in that atmosphere.”
The Lady Wolves faced Oxford in the district semifinals on Nov. 3 and won in three games, 25-12, 25-18, 25-18.
“Oxford played a great match against us,” said Pinner. “It definitely prepared us.”
The Lady Wolves faced another familiar foe on Macomb Dakota in the semifinals of the regional on Tuesday. Clarkston defeated them three times during the regular season – once at the Lady Wolves’ home quad and twice at the Seaholm tournament in pool play and the finals.
“We have won, but that doesn’t mean anything now. It makes it harder to beat them a fourth time,” said Pinner. “My kids understand you can’t just defeat them three times and it’s going to be an easy haul. They understand and respect Dakota. They have some great hitters. They play some great defense.”
The Lady Wolves defeated the Cougars, 3-0, and plays Fenton in the final round at Anchor Bay High School, 7 p.m.
“We’ve been very focused in practice. I think this team truly has the potential to make a long run if they stay focused and they concentrate on the work in front of us,” said Pinner. “We are in a good place right now.”
BY WENDI REARDON PRICE