Eisenhower grabs district championship
EISENHOWER 22-25-25-23-15, GROSSE POINTE NORTH 25-19-22-25-12:
Eagles down Stoney Creek in five sets
After dropping a match earlier in the season to Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, Eisenhowerâs volleyball team knew Friday nightâs Class A district championship provided the perfect opportunity to exact revenge.
Battling through five, grueling sets, Eisenhower earned the last laugh over host Stoney Creek, with the Eagles punching their ticket to next weekâs regional semifinal, 22-25, 25-19, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12.
âThere was a little bit of a revenge factor tonight,â Eisenhower coach Caitlin LaPratt said. âWeâre in their home gym, and we lost to them in a tournament final earlier this year. On paper, weâre pretty evenly matched, and I knew it would be toughâ¦ Iâm happy for our girls that we had the outcome we did.â
The thrilling, five-set victory lands No. 10-ranked Eisenhower in a Class A regional semifinal against Fenton at Anchor Bay on Tuesday.
Coming away with a district title after a competitive regular season in the MAC Red Division marks just the first step in the Eaglesâ postseason plans, with LaPratt understanding that anyone can beat anyone in the state tournament.
âThe girls have been really humble about our success this year,â she said. âThereâs always another goal, and we just want to keep playing as a team and keep getting better. Achieving those small goals will lead us to our big goals.â
After a sloppily played first set, Eisenhower trailed Stoney Creek, but like they had so many times throughout the year, LaPrattâs Eagles dug deep to overcome the deficit.
“Weâve played in a lot of tough matches this year, and weâve been down big and came from behind, so we knew we had what it tookâ¦ We felt very prepared for tonight because of all the close matches during the yearâ¦ Our girls were never rattled. We stayed very mentally focused.â
Taking sets two and three behind strong serving and a balanced offensive attack, Ike found itself struggling to close out the match in the fourth. Both LaPratt and Stoney Creek coach Ross Talbott knew how well the two squads matched up, and the fact it went five sets surprised very few.
âI knew it would be a really tough match, and I knew that the team who gives up a set because of unforced errors would pay the price, and we gave up the third set,â Talbott said. âWe didnât close out the set, and we let them back inâ¦ Credit to (Eisenhower), theyâre a really good team.â
Playing an equally tough regular-season schedule, Stoney Creek, which ended the season as an honorable mention in Class A, proved to be battle-tested after falling behind on Friday, fighting to eventually force a decisive fifth set.
âWe played in a lot of five-set matches in the OAA Red,â Talbott added. âWe learned how to fight playing against some of the really good teams in our leagueâ¦ All the close matches we played in helped us force that fifth set tonight.â
The Cougars, which end the year at 41-14, were led by the Stration sisters, junior Lindsey and freshman Kate. The two piled up a combined 31 kills and 31 digs in the season-ending loss, while seniors Erika Ward and MacKenzie Wild left it all on the court in their final action.
âWe had two amazing seniors, theyâre All-State players, theyâre both going to play Division 1 in college, and theyâve been rock stars for us this year,â Talbott said. âThey really helped establish what it means to be a member of the Stoney Creek volleyball program.â
Anchored by the Strations, sophomore setter Stephanie Smith, who racked up 72 assists, and junior Molly Asmus, who chipped in with 11 kills and three blocks, Talbott and Stoney Creek will have a strong foundation moving to next season.
âThe Stration kids have some incredible heart, and they are kids we can build a program around,â Talbott said. âAs a first year coach, I couldnât be prouderâ¦ Iâm excited to see where our program is headed.â
For Eisenhower, which now sits at 42-9-1 overall, sophomore Marissa Durand and senior Kathryn Ciraulo led offensively with 15 kills and 13 kills respectively. The Eaglesâ balance has been key for them all year, and against Stoney Creek, it was much of the same. Along with Durand and Ciraulo, freshman Meghan Dombrowski added 10 kills and a pair of blocks, and senior Payton Kennelly tallied 49 assists, 17 digs, and three blocks in the win.
âThey wanted to keep us off balance and out of our system, but I thought we really matched them,â LaPratt said. âWe served tough, and we tried to take them out of their comfort zone. I thought we did a good job of that tonight.â
Dombrowski, whoâs competing in her first state tournament, was leaned on heavily during the matchâs crucial fifth set and delivered in a big way, coming up with three kills and a block to help tip the scales for Eisenhower.
âThere was a lot of pressure on her tonight,â LaPratt said of Dombrowski. âWe needed some blocks and to change things up, and she came up in a really big moment with exactly what we neededâ¦ She took care of what she needed to tonight.â
The Eagles take on Fenton on Tuesday at New Baltimore Anchor Bay in a Class A regional semifinal.
Below is the link the the Macomb Daily article: