MANISTIQUE—A two-month layoff from competition couldn’t curb Carney-Nadeau’s excitement here Tuesday night in a 3-1 (25-21, 25-16, 27-29, 25-18) volleyball triumph over the Rudyard Bulldogs in a Division 4 state quarterfinal match.
The victory sends C-N to Friday’s semifinals at Battle Creek where it will face Auburn Hills Oakland Christian in a 2 p.m. match.
“We were very excited to be playing again,” said C-N senior outside hitter Taylor Kedsch, whose kill into mid-court secured the decision. “We were riding a high. I think we were pretty close to where we were when the season got delayed (due to COVID-19). We were down there when I was a sophomore, and we’re very excited to be going back downstate.”
C-N took a seemingly comfortable 17-5 lead on a hitting error by the Bulldogs in the finale. The Wolves then committed a pair of hitting miscues, and Paige Postma hit a service ace as part of a four-point service run to bring the Bulldogs within 17-10.
C-N got a sideout for an eight-point cushion before Rudyard trimmed its deficit to 18-13 on back-to-back kills by Brooklynn Besteman.
The Wolves got a sideout on a Bulldogs’ service error, then extended their advantage to 23-14 on a kill by junior outside hitter Mel Baumler.
“I think we just lost our momentum, and they gained momentum,” said Kedsch. “In the fourth set, we just all stayed positive. They have some good hitters. They’re a good team, very similar to Peshtigo.”
The Wolves led 20-14 in the third set following another Bulldog’s hitting miscue. Sara Beelen’s kill through a double-block then jump-started a 10-3 run for the Bulldogs, who took a 24-23 lead on a kill by Besteman.
Rudyard was trailing 27-26 when Besteman added a kill to tie the score. The Bulldogs then scored the last two points, securing that set on a Wolves’ hitting error.
“The girls just wanted this one so bad,” said first-year Rudyard coach Amanda Reid. “After having two months off, it’s hard to snap right back into it. They were a very organized team and just came out so strong. The girls fought hard all the way, and I’m proud of them for that. This was a great experience for us.”
In the second set, the Wolves trailed 5-2 after a passing error. Following a sideout, senior middle hitter Liana Blahnik served six straight points for a 9-5 C-N lead.
The Bulldogs rallied to tie the score at 11 when Besteman blocked a shot by Blahnik.
Blahnik atoned for that moments later by providing the Wolves with a kill and sideout for a 12-11 lead. C-N extended its advantage to lead to 20-13 before the Bulldogs trimmed their deficit to four on an ace by Besteman.
The Wolves then closed out that set by taking advantage of a variety of Bulldogs’ miscues. In the opener, Rudyard took a 21-17 lead on an ace by Postma.
C-N made it 21-18 on a hitting error, and junior libero Kenzie Walcher’s seven-point service run helped the Wolves take the first set.
“They were a great team,” said C-N coach Steve Kedsch. “It’s too bad we had to sit out two months. We could get the lead, but they kept battling back. Our girls were starting to wear down a little. I thought Liana had a great night in the middle and serving. Taylor hit the ball real well, and Haley (Ernest) passed the ball well.”
Blahnik served for 22 points, including three runs of five or more points. She finished with four aces, 17 kills and 21 digs. Taylor Kedsch added 17 points, 17 kills and 20 digs. Senior setter Haley Ernest collected 31 assists and 15 digs. Walcher also had 15 digs.
Carney-Nadeau—Blahnik (22 points, four aces, 21 kills, two blocks, one assist); T. Kedsch (17 points, 17 kills, one block); Ernest (four points, three kills, three blocks, 31 assists); Walcher (seven points, one ace); Baumler (three points, three kills); Kirschner (two points, three blocks); S. Kedsch (three assists).