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Novi picks up first district title since 2010 with win over Canton

By: Jeff Dullack, November 6, 2014, 10:46 pm

Novi – Over the course of the previous three seasons, the district playoffs have been a place where Novi has seen its season come to an end. 

But entering the postseason as the No. 2-ranked team, the Wildcats entered Thursday night looking to advance past the district stage of the playoffs.

Novi stormed out to a game one win and after dropping the second game, bounced back to pick up wins in games three and four to claim its first district title since 2010, topping Canton, 25-11, 25-27, 25-16 and 25-12.

Novi now advances to the regional semifinals where it will face Fenton, which topped Grand Blanc in five games on Thursday, at West Bloomfield on Tuesday night.

“I think the vibe was just really relaxed,” said Novi coach Jennifer Cottrill. “In the past we’ve been really worried that this could be our last game and this year we’ve been focused on what we need to do and just really relax. Canton looked really nervous in the first set and just made a ton of errors and then they played great in game two, took us out of our system. I don’t know what turned around in set three, but our passing shaped up, we have a setter that can move the ball around and that frustrated them in set three.”

After Novi easily cruised to a 25-11 win in the first set, Canton bounced back in the second game, taking a 23-21 lead over the Wildcats in the after a Courtney Kurkie kill. 

But after Novi responded to eventually grab a 25-24 lead, behind three straight kills by Victoria Iacobelli, Canton’s Sydney Torres registered back-to-back kills to put Canton out in front, 26-25 and a Taylor Pelland kill clinched the game two win for the Chiefs, 27-25.

But in game three, Novi stormed out of the gates, much like the first game of the night, and took a 14-4 lead early on behind an Ally Cummings kill and after Novi saw its lead grow to as large as 11, behind another kill from Cummings, the Wildcats cruised to a 25-16 win behind a set clinching kill from Paulina Iacobelli.

“I think they (Canton) played really well in the second game,” said Cottrill. “They passed well and we didn’t pass well and we were running a lot of back-row attacks and the twins (Paulina and Victoria Iacobelli) were trying to make something out of nothing. In the third set, we started passing a little better so we could get our middles going and Ally (Cummings) going on the right side.”

Paulina Iacobelli finished with a match-high 18 kills and 18 digs and also tallied four blocks, while Victoria Iacobelli added in 16 kills and 10 digs and Erin O’Leary finished with 48 assists, six kills and 11 digs and Cummings had nine kills and six blocks to help lead the way for Novi. 

Paulina Iacobelli noted that with Novi’s attack spread out to several players on Thursday night, it opened up opportunities for herself as well as her sister as Canton had to look to slow down more than Novi’s outside hitters.

“It was awesome, because usually the blockers are stacked out on the pins,” she said. “So to have the attack spread out, they held the block, so my sister and I were able to get great swings tonight.”

In game four, Novi used a 9-2 run, highlighted by three kills and one block from Paulina Iacobelli and another kill from Victoria Iacobelli to turn a 9-7 lead into a commanding 18-9 advantage as the Wildcats would never look back, cruising to a 25-12 win to clinch the district title.

“We’ve been stuck in districts for four years,” said Paulina Iacobelli of her team’s district title. “This district final was my goal, we came together as a team and the whole season, this is what we worked for, so it feels really good to accomplish that goal.”