GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Clarkston rallies to upset No. 2 Lake Orion
FOR MORE VOLLEYBALL COVERAGE: http://northoaklandsports.com/?s=Volleyball&x=0&y=9
BY DAN STICKRADT
LAKE ORION — It’s hard to call Clarkston beating Lake Orion an upset in the sport of girls volleyball. The Wolves are going after their seventh straight OAA Red Division league championship and both have evolved into state powerhouse programs during the past decade.
The rankings said otherwise.
The Wolves rallied back from a 1-0 set deficit and even overcame a 24-23 hole in Game 2 to post a 3-1 victory Tuesday over hoist Lake Orion, which came in ranked second in the state in Class A.
Clarkston, honorable mention in the polls, posted a 19-25, 27-25, 25-21, 25-19 edge this time around, although Lake Orion had defeated Clarkston in a weekend tournament earlier in the season.
The Wolves (29-5-2) have not lost to the Dragons (30-9-1) inside league play in several years and found enough resolve to hand Lake Orion its first league loss of the season. The win kept Clarkston tied atop of the OAA-Red standings with Oxford at 4-0.
“We seem to have their number in league play,” said Clarkston coach Kelly Avenall. “The past two years we played them in the final league game with the league title on the line. This time there wasn’t as much pressure because we still have a couple of league games left. I thought we did a nice job tonight.”
The Wolves overcame their slow start to overpower the Dragons down the stretch, winning the final three sets. The wild set victory in Game 2 gave Clarkston plenty of emotion and momentum.
“I knew that taking the second game would be huge (for us),” added Avenall. “When you go down two games, it’s going to be a gut-wrencher to come back. I told the seniors (that winning Game 2) gave us new life. We came back really strong in the third and fourth games and we were able to pull it off.”
Clarkston never trailed in Game 3 and only trailed Lake Orion 5-3 early in Game 4 before pulling away , leading by as many as eight points (22-14) in the fourth and deciding set.
Defensively, Clarkston consistently took Lake Orion’s hitters out of their rhythm and sent the Dragons into panic mode.
“I don’t think we played too particularly well and we needed to against a team like Clarkston,” said Lake Orion coach Ross Talbott. “We hadn’t played the last three weekends and I think we needed to see better competition leading up to this, but hats off to Clarkston. This probably was one of the best defensive efforts we’ve seen this year.”
Lake Orion won the first game, turning an 18-18 tie into a 24-18 advantage. The two teams traded off points to close the set. Clarkston rallied off victories in the next three games, going to an array of hitters to thwart Lake Orion.
“I think we surprised them a little bit, especially Kacy Robinson in the first couple of games,” said Avenall. “They know we have Taylor (Dellinger) and Katie (Chadwell), but I thought that Kacy really helped us out. We don’t always use our offensive weapons as well as we should, but we came out aggressive tonight.”
Dellinger finished with 15 kills, Robinson added 11 kills, Chadwell had eight kills and five block-kills, while Briana Frakes chipped in with a steady 32 assists for Clarkston.
Hannah Murdock had eight kills and nine digs, while Tess Marshall added 10 digs and 10 kills and Kayle Rochey followed with eight kills for Lake Orion.
Clarkston will face Birmingham Seaholm Thursday, while Lake Orion will visit Oxford also on Thursday.
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)