OSCODA – The best of the North Star League Big Dipper took on the best of the North Star League Little Dipper on Thursday. Oscoda, which currently leads the Big Dipper was playing at Hale, the leaders of the Little Dipper, and claimed a four set win 25-19, 17-25, 25-13 and 25-21.
“I’m pretty happy,” head coach Melissa Curley said after the win. “We know they like to play a lot of the short game, and a lot of the tipping game so we have been focusing on that this whole week, making sure we cover that.”
Hale was hanging around in the fourth set, trailing just 21-20. After a Hale attack error, Macy Kellstrom spiked the ball off the top of the net that barely found its way over to give Oscoda a 23-20 edge and with the Owls leading 24-21, Kaylin Griggs tracked down the ball after it went several feet out of bounds. Griggs hit the ball cleanly over the net back to Hale’s side. The Eagles mishandled their attack moments later, leaving to a game ending side-out at 25-21.
“I was very happy that we dug in and kept playing hard,” Curley said of avoiding a fifth set. “Megan Myles had a great night blocking and McKenna Mochty, I have been trying to get on her about attacking more and she listened. That’s a big game changer when you have a setter that can attack the ball.”
The Owls began the night by largely dominating the opening set. A pair of early blocks by Myles and three kills by Kellstrom gave Oscoda a quick 10-5 lead, with Oscoda taking a lead as big as 20-11 on another block by Myles.
Leading 22-18 late in the set, Mochty smacked back an incoming free ball, Kellstrom delivered a fastball like spike and Griggs capped off the set with a kill at 25-18.
Hale played its best ball of the night in the second, leading from 6-5 onward and holding an edge as big as 19-8, before settling for the set at 25-17.
“We just kind of had everything going for us that first game,” Curley said. “We were passing good, our hits were down. We saw a big hole and we talked about it and knew where we wanted to put the ball. The second game we were passing well, we were just getting a little too anxious and put the ball into the net.”
Oscoda regained momentum in the third set, as Griggs had two quick kills to give her team an 8-1 lead. Spikes by Myles and Kellstrom had the Owls ahead 11-3 and 16-5 and another spike by Kellstrom saw the score 20-10.
Kellstrom followed that with a bullet-like kill at 21-12 and Mochty finished off the frame at 25-13 thanks to a spike of her own.
In the fourth, Griggs broke a 5-5 tie on a well-played ball at the net. Leaping at the same time as a Hale player, she alertly punched the ball down for the point and 6-5 advantage.
A tip by Kellstrom extended that gap to 13-7 and she tacked on another kill at 16-10. A Myles spike put Oscoda’s lead to 18-15, leading to the final events of the night.
Kellstrom’s 19 kills, 19 digs and one block led the way for the Owls. Griggs added nine kills, 12 digs and one block, Myles had nine kills and four blocks and Mochty had eight kills and 40 assists. Mia Whipkey added four kills and five blocks.
On Saturday, the Owls played in a tri-match at Caro, against Croswell-Lexington and Laker. Oscoda split with C-L but topped Laker in each set.
“I think we passed well on serve receive,” Curley said. “Overall, our defense was pretty good. Of course, we had some communication errors and moments of not moving our feet to the ball, but it was a pretty good day. We still need to work on keeping our level of play up for the full day. I was happy to see our net play staying strong with lots of blocking.”
Leading the way was Kellstrom with a big 27-kill performance and she also had 28 digs, four aces and one block. Myles had nine kills and five blocks, Griggs had 10 kills, 19 digs and eight aces, McKenna Mochty had eight kills, 45 assists, three blocks and eight aces and Emma Przybylinksi had 24 digs.
Oscoda (12-4-3 overall) was at Hillman on Tuesday, hosts AuGres on Thursday, heads down to AuGres on Tuesday and hosts Whittemore-Prescott in a key NSL battle on Thursday, Oct. 22.