November 23, 2011 - Spikers made Clarkston history by advancing to the MHSAA Volleyball semifinals last week by beating Canton in a close 3-2 game in the Quarterfinals.
Kaley Konjarevich digs in the MHSAA Class A Semifinals against Lake Orion, Nov. 17. Photo by Larry Wright. Want to see more photos from last week's games? Pick up the Nov. 23 print edition of The Clarkston News. (click for larger version)
In their showdown against Lake Orion to secure one of the last two spots for the finals, the Lady Wolves lost 3-1.
"We struggled all night trying to put anything together," said Clarkston Girls Varsity Volleyball Coach Kelly Avenall. "We struggled offensively. We struggled passing. It is not a good time to have those things happen when you are facing a good team like that. I give a lot of credit to Orion, they came out firing hard at us."
Clarkston had a short lead in the first game but the Lady Dragons quickly caught up and kept adding to the board ending with a 25-17 win to take their first win.
Kaley Konjarevich and Stephanie Marani opened the second game with a block. The girls built onto the momentum creating a gap once they were in the double digits on the board. They won 25-16, tying the game 1-1.
Lake Orion took the third match, 25-16. The fourth game stayed evenly matched as both teams went point for point until Orion found the rhythm and scored five consecutive points to win the game, 25-22.
"There are a lot of emotions with us and Orion," said Avenall. "I felt that got the better of us tonight. As soon as we put a run together they would answer right back."
Senior Maddie Lightfoot had 31 digs and Konjarevich had 13 kills.
The Lady Wolves opened the week against Canton. They won the first two games 28-26 and 25-21. With only one more win needed to secure a trip to the semifinals Canton fought back to take the next two games 25-18 and 25-21.
"They were playing like they didn't want to lose," Avenall said. "They started to get back on their heels and playing scared. It was a good battle."
Both teams went into a huddle before they went back onto the court for the fifth and final game.
"We just all thought it is a brand new game," said Rachel Dickerson. "We weren't thinking of the games before. We just put all our hearts out there."
The result was both teams going point for point and fighting for the next win until they were tied 14-14.
Dickerson scored two points to end the game 16-14 and aid the team to school history.
"It feels amazing," she said. "We have been looking forward to it. All season we have been working so hard and to have everything come together feels amazing."
Marani led with 18 kills and five blocks. Dickerson and Konjarevich had 17 kills. Lightfoot had 35 digs.
The girls finished the season with an overall record 56-6. They claimed the titles for OAA Red, MHSAA District playoffs and MHSAA Regional playoffs.
"It was an epic season," said Avenall. "These girls are amazing. They made some awesome memories, friends and experience. They made a name in the state for our program. I am proud of them."
They lose three seniors - Maddie Lightfoot, Stephanie Marani and Angela Niezgoda.
"We are going to miss them," said Avenall. "I am going to miss them. They are the first group I coached in eighth grade. Maddie has been coming to camp since she was a little kid. It is tough."
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.