TONTOGANY – Maybe it was not being in the routine of the school day or maybe it was the fact they had to rise and shine and play, but all season long Evergreen has struggled with Saturday morning volleyball matches.
Against Fairview that scenario proved to be no different as the Vikes dropped a straight set match to the Apaches 25-21, 25-22, 25-18, ending the Vikings’ magical season in the Division III sectional final.
Actually Evergreen led by seven in the first set, and went up 4-1 in the second as Fairview had a pair of attacks go wide and Savannah VanOstrand scored from the right side.
However, Fairview came back to knot the score on Riley Mealer’s block and shots from Kiersten Cline and Madison Schoenauer that rattled off block attempts.
VanOstrand’s two-hand push regained an Evergreen lead at 5-3 and the Vikes extended the margin to 11-7 on two Kori Kreuz kills, one each from McKenna Babcock and Kelsie Komisarek and a knuckleball ace by Claire Conrad.
That lead grew by one more, 19-14, on Nicole Brand’s stuff from the middle.
But the Vikings kill attempts began to miss the mark, in fact three of the next five points, along with another block by Mealer and Kamryn Roland’s kill tied the set.
Olivia Ricica’s ace put Fairview up 20-19, then she added on with another ace that hit tape and rolled over the net.
“They were a really tough team and they came out ready to play today,” stated the Vikes first-year coach Nichole Thanasiu. “I can’t really say the same about us. They capitalized on every mistake we made and we did not do the same when they made them.”
Kreuz and Komisarek kept the Vikings within a point but a net violation and an attack that again went out put Fairview at set point where Mealer converted from the right side for the win.
Again in the third, Komisarek’s ace and kills from Babcock and VanOstrand gave Evergreen a 4-1 lead.
Again Fairview came back to tie on Mealer’s kill, an attack that was out and Roland’s ace.
Babcock’s left side hit put the Vikings up 5-4, but the Apaches scored six of the next seven points, including two from Ricica and Cline’s left side kill to take a 10-6 lead.
Evergreen got as close as 14-11 on Kreuz’s right side kill but could never get any closer.
Mealer scored four kills in the last 11 Fairview points, including the match clincher from the right side to push the Apaches into tonight’s district semifinal against Otsego.
The upstart Vikings bowed out of the tournament after winning an NWOAL title for the first time in three years in Thanasiu’s first season, and finishing with a 15-5 record.
“That is what I just told them,” Thanasiu said of the Vikings’ Cinderella season. “I said in the huddle that even though this was not the result we were looking for today, we did great things this year. We did things that people said we couldn’t do and we weren’t expected to do. We need to always remember that at the end of the day that we put our stamp this year in Evergreen history.”
Reach Joe Blystone at firstname.lastname@example.org