Saline's Season Ends in Five Set Heartbreaker
A season to remember ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Saline volleyball team Thursday night when the Hornets fell to Northville in a five-set battle in the D1 state semifinals in Battle Creek.
The Hornets could not hold off the Mustangs with Northville overcoming a 2-1 deficit to take the match 25-23, 21-25, 23-25, 25-13, 15-13 ending Saline's season with a 38-9-1 overall record.
The match was close throughout with the teams going toe-to-toe all evening.
Saline took a 12-10 lead in the opening set, but the Mustangs went on a 9-1 run to take a 19-13 lead.
Following a Hornets timeout, Saline would answer with a 10-4 run to tie the set a 23, before Northville would pick up a pair of kills to take the set 25-23.
The second set was close all the way through with neither team leading by more than three for most of the set.
Northville led 21-20 late, but the Hornets would get kills Marie Laurio, Catherine Flaharty and two by Beth Ann Ford to score the last five points and take the set 25-21 and even the match a 1-1.
The third set saw the Mustangs take control early with a 7-1 lead. The lead would be 10-4 when Saline turned things around and scored seven of the next eight points to tie the game at 11.
Neither team would lead by more than two the rest of the set as they went back and forth with Northville leading 22-21.
Flaharty would get hot and pick up three straight kills to give the Hornets a 24-22 lead. After a Northville kill Laurio would end it with a massive spike to take the set 25-23 and give the Hornets a 2-1 lead heading to the fourth.
There was not rally for Saline in the fourth as the Mustangs played like their season was on the line and dominated the fourth 25-13. Saline trailed 3-2 early and they would never get closer than four points the rest of the way to set up a deciding fifth set.
Northville took an early 5-2 lead, but Saline answered with a 4-point run to take a 6-5 lead.
Like most of the game between the two evenly matched team, the fifth set would be close the rest of the way.
The teams would be tied four more times until Saline took a 12-10 lead on a pair of Mustang errors.
Northville called a timeout and answered with four straight points setting up match point at 14-12. An Anna Hesse kill saved one match point at 14-13, but the Mustangs forced a Hornets error to take the set 15-13 and match at 3-2.
The stats were about even between the teams with the big difference in the game being the net play with Northville recording 13 blocks as a team to just four by Saline. The Hornets recorded 64 kills to 58 for the Mustangs.
Laurio led Saline with 21 kills and 18 digs and four aces.
Hesse finished with 18 digs and two digs, while Ford had 12 kills, two digs, and two blocks. Flaharty chipped in with 11 kills and three digs.
The Hornets backcourt was busy all night with Northville's big front line. Laney Burns dished out 54 assists and 13 digs, while Olivia Behen had 25 digs and four assists, and Cazzi Smith had 13 digs, one assists, and one ace.
Saline went farther than many expected this season with one of its top players in Mallory Bohl missing the year with an injury. So many players stepped up all year to give the Hornets their best season since 1984. They will lose five seniors from this year's squad but will have high expectations next season for another long playoff run in 2023.