By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The No. 5 ranked Manchester Lady Dutch Volleyball team fell to the No. 1 ranked Monroe St. Mary’s Catholic Central (SMCC) Kestrels on Nov. 13 at Ann Arbor Huron in a Class C state quarterfinal matchup.
After coming off of their first regional title in 25 years last week, this game was a chance at revenge. Last year, SMCC eliminated Manchester in the first round of regional play in a 3-1 match that was closer than the set count indicated
On Nov. 13, it was an even more competitive match, with SMCC pulling out the win in five sets, 25-15, 16-25, 24-26, 25-21, 15-7.
SMCC grabbed the opening set in dominating fashion. They started the game on a 10-2 run, forcing a Manchester timeout after an ace gave SMCC 10 points. After that, an 8-4 run punctuated by a kill from SMCC sophomore Mikayla Haut forced another Manchester timeout trailing 18-6. Haut finished with a team high 19 kills.
Manchester outscored SMCC 9-7 to end the set, but it was too little too late, falling 25-15.
“We just weren’t moving. We were slow, it was like our feet were stuck,” said Manchester head coach Trisca Beasley on the first set. “We weren’t watching that pass come into our hands, which led to us shanking it. It forced everybody to move a little differently. We weren’t commanding the ball, because of that first touch not being a great one we couldn’t get our hits going. They did a great job of getting our setter out again and again. We know what to do, we just weren’t communicating who’s taking that second touch.”
In the second set, the Manchester offense came alive. They started off the set 5-0 with two kills from junior Kayla Engel. SMCC took a timeout trying to slow the Manchester momentum trailing 20-11 but Manchester won the set 25-16 on a kill from senior Jayden Humphrey. Humphrey had nine kills in the set, with the ninth being the set winner.
— Seth Kinker (@SethKinker) November 13, 2018
Humphrey (23), Engel (20) and senior Avery Collins (7) led the team in kills. Collins, one of seven seniors on the team, also led the team in blocks on the night with four.
Manchester took a 2-1 lead after a big comeback in the third set. SMCC led 5-4 early before Manchester would go on a run of their own. SMCC took at timeout holding a slim two-point lead, 16-14, after a kill from Collins. After that timeout, SMCC went on a short run themselves to force a Manchester timeout, with the lead now 20-15 still in favor of SMCC.
An 8-3 run by Manchester knotted the game at 23, with the sets being played to 25 but having to win by two points. Engel dropped a ball in the middle of the SMCC defense to take the 24-23 lead. Engel responded to that with two straight kills for the 26-24 set three victory.
— Seth Kinker (@SethKinker) November 13, 2018
“They were still in it, still determined to come back,” said Beasley on the psyche of the team after the first set. “In that second set we dominated, we didn’t get behind. In that third set when we were behind, we didn’t give up, we started pushing and making it our game. It was fantastic, and I was hoping it would be enough to propel us to that fourth set and make it ours. That fifth set is always a tough one.”
SMCC came out strong in the fourth set, SMCC kills coupled with Manchester mistakes led to an early 7-3 lead for SMCC.
That was a theme throughout the night as Manchester looked every bit like a team that could compete with the top-ranked Class C team in the state but hurt themselves at key moments with self-inflicted mistakes.
After a kill from Haut made it 18-11 Manchester called another timeout. Manchester fought back with help from SMCC mistakes and kills of their own, but the comeback came up just short, and they fell 25-21.
In the overtime set, SMCC overwhelmed Manchester, 15-7. Engel was hurt early in the set but stayed in for the remainder of the match. An SMCC ace prompted a Manchester timeout trailing 5-2. SMCC would go on another quick 3-1 before a final Manchester timeout trailing 8-3. Manchester served it out to send SMCC to the Class C semifinals.
Sophomore Kayla Ridenour (16) and Engel (15) led the team in digs, Ridenour (41) also led the team in assists.
The loss ends the most successful season for Beasley since she took over the program in 2015. She’s now won three district titles and a regional title in that span, with this 44 win season being the first regional win that Beasley has had at Manchester.
“SMCC has had a nice ride, we wanted to end it for sure,” said Beasley reflecting on the season. “I’m just so proud of (the team), they worked so hard. They’re a great group of girls. It’s not where I saw us ending tonight, I saw us going all the way to Saturday.