2017-10-26 / Sports

Harbor Light Defeats Mackinaw City for Northern Lakes Conference Title

By Erich T. Doerr


At left: Mackinaw City’s Kayla Gallagher (#4) hits the ball skyward during the second set of Mackinaw City’s showdown with Harbor Light Christian as her teammates Haley Jones (#6) and Alaina Martin (#2) prepare to react. On the other side of the net the Swordsmen’s six defenders include Mikayla Kersting (#4), Casey Redman (#1), and Nani Paule (#13). Mackinaw City went on to win this set 27-25, but lost the match in five sets. At left: Mackinaw City’s Kayla Gallagher (#4) hits the ball skyward during the second set of Mackinaw City’s showdown with Harbor Light Christian as her teammates Haley Jones (#6) and Alaina Martin (#2) prepare to react. On the other side of the net the Swordsmen’s six defenders include Mikayla Kersting (#4), Casey Redman (#1), and Nani Paule (#13). Mackinaw City went on to win this set 27-25, but lost the match in five sets. The 2017 Northern Lakes Conference volleyball championship was essentially on the line Tuesday, October 17, as Mackinaw City hosted Harbor Light Christian. The intense matchup went the full five sets, with Harbor Light (13-0, 16-2-5) pulling out the victory in the tiebreaking set after a late rally. The loss snapped the Comets’ (12-3, 11-2) six-game winning streak.

The match began with Harbor Light winning the first set 25-22 before Mackinaw City came back to win the tight second set 27-25. The Comets took control in the third set on the way to a 25-11 victory, but the Swordsmen pulled back from the brink by winning the fourth set 25- 15. Harbor Light then pulled away to win 15-10 in an intense tiebreaking set that saw both teams leading at times.

“That was some great volleyball,” Mackinaw City Coach Rachel Wallin said.

The two teams played each other earlier this season in Harbor Springs Thursday, September 21, with that game seeing Harbor Light pull ahead then hold off a Mackinaw City rally to win in five sets. Using their knowledge from that game, Ms. Wallin said the Comets tried to wear out the Swordsmen, but were unsuccessful in the effort. Harbor Light, she said, is a very tough team to play.

“We tried to play smart and find their holes,” Ms. Wallin said. “I told the girls Harbor Light wouldn’t lay down for them and [the Swordsmen] bounced right back. My girls gave everything they had.”

The teams will meet for a third time this year during the district playoffs. Both teams had one more conference game left on their schedules after Tuesday’s match. Harbor Light all but clinched the conference title with its Tuesday win and triumphs by both of the teams in their finales would give them the top two positions in league action this year.

“My players like a tough game like that,” Harbor Light Coach Dora Johnson said, noting her team strived to play more like it did during the first set during the final two. “Our coverage got better and we played the net more.”

The NLC conference championship is the second in a row for Harbor Light. Mrs. Johnson said she is proud of her players. The school had a prior string of championships broken when the Comets won the title in 2015.

The game was Mackinaw City’s last home game of the season and included a pre-game “Parents Night” celebration to recognize the school’s fall senior players in both volleyball and cross country competition. Volleyball players Alaina Martin, Kayla Gallagher, Haley Jones, and Sarah Morse plus cross county runners Mya Curth and Jarred Hartman were each announced to the crowd on hand before meeting with their parents on the court, presenting them with a rose. The Comets volleyball team also changed its jerseys for the night, as the players donned the blue uniforms they usually wear on the road instead of their normal white home jerseys.

Much of the on-court action was back and forth affair Tuesday with almost every volley going over the net several times before either team could score. The match began with the teams trading each other two points before the Comets got a threepoint run going as Kameryn Hartman served. They extended their lead to 10-5 as Jones served before a timeout broke up the action. Sarah Morse served as Mackinaw City added three more points just after the break, but Harbor Light pulled ahead with four points while Mikayla Kersting served, then added more with other servers including three with Lizzie Powers, three with Megan Johnson, and four with Kiley Graham. The score tied at 21-21 before a last charge by Harbor Light with Powers serving give it a set-winning edge.

The Swordsmen’s momentum carried over into the second set as Powers and Johnson helped the team open up a 6-2 lead before Mackinaw City rallied to tie it 6-6 with Kyra Cryderman serving. The game re- mained tight with the score again tying at 11-11 before Mackinaw City pulled ahead with four straight points as Hartman served. Seven straight points while Jones helped the Comets extend their lead before three points while Morse served helped them close out the set win.

The Comets hit their stride in the third set as they pulled ahead to a quick 7-2 lead, with Martin and Hartman serving as their home crowd roared with approval. Another three points came as Cryderman served before Harbor Light went on the offensive with four points while Nani Paule served. Five points while Gallagher served and another three with Morse as server helped Mackinaw City pull away for good on the way to a 25-11 victory in that set.

The fourth set began with the teams again trading points. Any momentum for one team was quickly countered by the other, with three points for Harbor Light while Kersting served were immediately countered by three for Mackinaw City as Gallagher served. Eight straight points for the Swordsmen while Graham served at the end of the set propelled Harbor Light to victory.

In the tiebreaking fifth set, the lead changed hands several times early on with Hartman serving as three vital points for Mackinaw City gave the Comets a 6-3 lead. Harbor Light pulled away for good, however, as it scored three points while Graham served, then added another eight in a row as Paule served en route to a 15- 10 set victory to take the match.

“It’s sad to lose [this game] but we made them work hard for it,” Mackinaw City player Sarah Morse said. “We’ll see them again in districts and push them hard again.”

Comets Statistics: Kayla Gallagher, four aces, 10 kills, two blocks; Sarah Morse, three aces, three kills; Haley Jones, three aces, two kills; Alaina Martin, one ace, three kills, 22 assists; Kameryn Hartman, one ace, 10 kills.

Swordsmen Statistics: Mikayla Kersting, 18 kills, 63 digs; Casey Redman, 16 kills, 79 digs, four aces, 17 of 17 serving; Kiley Graham, six kills, 44 digs, three aces; Lizzie Powers, five kills, 52 digs, 47 assists.

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