3LEWISTON – The Oscoda volleyball team made the trip up to Johannesburg-Lewiston three times last week to play in their division three district tournament. The Lady Owls won their first two games relatively easily, but couldn’t cap off the run with a district championship, falling to tourney host Joburg Saturday morning in four sets, 25-20, 25-14, 20-25 and 25-10.
“It was a tough loss,” head coach Melissa Curley. “I hated that the season had to end so soon. I really thought this group of seniors was going to be the team that would get that district title for us. I know they are all really upset.”
Despite the loss, it was still a successful week for the team, who was forced to play a bit shorthanded in the post-season. The Owls were able to top Alcona and Whittemore-Prescott earlier in the week and battled Ski Valley Conference Joburg until the end.
“We were down all week two or three of our senior back row players, so we were playing with a whole new defense,” Curley said. “Sophomore Grace Bergquist did a great job and had a lot of great plays that kept us fighting.”
The Owls hung with the Lady Cardinals for most of the opening set, and erased an 18-16 hole thanks to a tip and a kill by Macy Kellstrom, making it 18-all.
Joburg scored the next five points however, giving it a 23-18 lead and it eventually finished off the frame at 25-20, with Oscoda getting kills by Mia Whipkey and Megan Myles.
J-L controlled the second set, jumping to a 7-0 lead and held the Owls at arms-length the entire way. Back-to-back kills by Myles brought Oscoda within 18-12, but the Cards finished the frame on a 7-2 run.
The third set was Oscoda’s best ball of the night. Three early kills by Kellstrom kept the Owls ahead 9-8 in the frame and a Kaylin Griggs spike and another kill by Kellstrom put them ahead 15-14.
Kellstrom’s solid set continued as she had three more kills t put the team ahead 19-15 and a block by Myles helped them hold a 22-20 lead and Oscoda scored the final three points on J-L errors to pull within two-sets-to-one.
Joburg controlled the fourth set however, taking a quick 8-2 lead and led 16-5 and 19-8 on the way to the 25-10 clinching set win.
“Their outside hitters did really well, we were focusing a lot on their middle hitters because when we watched them on fil, but their outsides hurt us,” Curley said. “We couldn’t get a block on them and that just killed us. I think the first few games we played really strong, still fighting hard. We didn’t really execute our game plan, we didn’t put the ball in the corners as much as we had talked about. If we could have done that more, I think it might have been a different outcome.”
Leading the team was Kellstrom with 18 kills, one block and 19 digs, Myles had seven kills and one block and Griggs had six kills, 11 digs and two aces.
On Wednesday, the Owls won their district semi-final game against Whittemore-Prescott in straight sets, 25-12, 25-20 and 25-19.
Kellstrom had 16 kills, six digs and one ace, Myles had seven kills, two blocks, 10 digs and one ace and McKenna Mochty had seven kills, 27 assists and two aces.
On Monday, Nov, 2 the Owls began the week with a sweep over Alcona, 25-16, 25-17 and 25-8.
Kellstrom once again led the way with 16 kills, 10 digs and two aces, Myles had eight kills and three blocks, Griggs had five kills, 10 digs and two aces and Andrea Bickel had four digs and six aces.
“The first two wins (last week) were great,” Curley said. “Alcona put up a fight against us late in the season so we knew we had to dig in and play well against them. We had a lot of senior leadership that helped keep everyone positive and keep us fighting hard all week.”
Oscoda finishes the season 25-9-2 overall and won the North Star League Big Dipper title for the second year in a row.
“I’m very proud of this team,” Curley said. “They have put in a lot of hard work this year, and they handled the stress of Covid well. We went into the season not sure what to expect and we are all just thankful we were able to play a full season. Our seniors will be greatly missed next year. They all had a tremendous part in our success this year.”
Kellstrom finished with a school record 439 kills this season and Curley added she is looking into whether Kellstrom also has a record in digs and aces and Mochty may have a record in assists.
“I am looking forward to some good things next year,” Curley said. “We are returning most of our hitters next year, so I’m looking forward to that, but we will have to do some extra work on passing, as we will be losing most of our passers. But I am wishing the girls more success this year as they head into basketball and bowling, and I will continue to support them on and off the volleyball court.”