BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Spikers cheered and smiled behind their masks as Clarkston Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Kelly Pinner held up the district trophy after they beat crosstown rival Lake Orion, 3-1.
“Nothing is better than winning the district,” Pinner smiled after the game at Holly High School last Thursday. “I have all the respect for Lake Orion Volleyball and for Coach Tony Scavarda. But beating Lake Orion is one of our ‘Yes!'”
The Wolves lost the first set in the MHSAA Class A Volleyball District 5 Final after a close battle with the Dragons, 25-22.
The beginning of the second set was the same battle but with key blocks and hits blocks from the Wolves, they pulled into the lead and held onto it. Sophomore Paige Giehtbrock ended the set, scoring the last point, 25-13.
“We wanted to win that first set. I wasn’t sure how we would come out after that,” Pinner said. “We have been preaching the last few days, we know it’s going to be an emotional match-up. We preached to them the last couple of days no matter who gets momentum we can’t get too emotional. We can’t get too panicked, we can’t get back on our heels, we have to keep fighting. I was just really proud of how they came out of that first set. Sometimes that’s going to deflate teams. We came back firing. I can’t say how proud I am of that moment right there, from set one to set two and how we flipped the switch and turned it on.”
She added what helped was the serve-pass game.
“We did a really good job serving them aggressive,” Pinner said. “We did a great job spreading out our offense. We weren’t one dimensional in that second set – that kept Lake Orion on their heels. They didn’t know what to expect.”
The third set was another close Clarkston and Lake Orion battle until junior Elizabeth Adams, senior Claire Nowicki and Giehtbrock scored points to put them into the lead and hold until it. A block from Nowicki ended the set, 25-21.
The Wolves won the fourth set, 25-18.
“They came back a little bit there in the end. Lake Orion came prepared – that’s a great team,” Pinner said. “I think of any of the matches we played this year, that’s the best defense. Just digging up balls ten feet off the court, we haven’t been doing that. We just had a hunger tonight.”
During the game, Nowicki had 14 kills, 15 digs, Giehtbrock had 13 kills and two aces. Hasenfratz had six blocks. Junior Summer Jidas had 14 digs. Senior Shay Bordine had eight digs and 18 assists, freshman Emily Kuebler had 25 assists and senior Madison McGraw had 11 kills.
“She probably had her best night,” said Pinner.
They won the district semifinals against Holly in three sets on Nov. 3, 25-15, 25-16, 25-18.
Nowicki had 14 kills, three blocks and two aces. Geihtbrock had nine kills and ten digs. Jidas had 14 digs. Kuebler had eight digs and 17 assists. Bordine had 17 assists. Senior Hasenfratz had two aces and three blocks. Adams had four blocks and McGraw had three blocks.
The Wolves lost to Lake Orion in the district playoffs the last two seasons. They defeated them in the district semifinals in 2017.
“We talked all year on how we didn’t even know if we were going to have a season,” said Pinner. “Now that we’re here and we have had a very successful season, I think they see we have a chance.”
They played Troy in the Regional 2 semifinals on Tuesday and won, 3-0. Clarkston moves on to play Utica Eisenhower in the regional championship at Stoney Creek High School on Thursday, 7 p.m. The champion moves forward to play Quarterfinal 1 at Lapeer High School on Tuesday, November 17, 7 p.m.