By DOUG DONNELLY
ERIE – Dawn Opsal wasn’t tempted, but you couldn’t blame her if she was.
Opsal, the head volleyball coach for Madison, watched as her Trojans fought point-by-point with Whiteford in the second set of Wednesday’s Class C volleyball district semifinal. Even as Whiteford pulled ahead 17-16, Opsal resisted the urge to have Kaiya Wall take off her warmup and take her place on the court. Turns out, she wasn’t needed after all as Madison rallied to win the second set by four points and go on to win the match, 25-14, 25-21, 25-6.
“She hasn’t practiced in two or three weeks,” Opsal said. “I was going to lose a game and take it to the end and just see what happens.”
Wall reinjured a track injury in a late October match with Whitmore Lake and hasn’t played since. She has been receiving treatment and was able to suit up and warm up before Wednesday’s match, but Opsal kept her on the bench as a precaution.
“She went to the doctor and she got some treatment and I wasn’t sure what she would look like today,” Opsal said. “She suited up, just in case, and she warmed up and looked really good.”
Madison, who finished the season ranked No. 5 in the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association Class C poll, improved to 46-8-2 on the season with the win. Whiteford closed out a 13-17-1 season with some spirited play, especially in the second game. They led 6-3, 8-6, 10-7, 11-8, 16-14 and 17-16 before Madison rallied.
The Bobcats continuously had people at the net, getting a hand on Madison’s hits. Freshman Kyleigh Borowicz and junior Koral Vanderhorst led the Bobcat hitters as they kept the lead over Madison. But, a nice kill by Kaitlyn Svoboda stopped one short Whiteford run and Kiarah Horn’s hit into the middle of the Bobcat defense wasn’t returned to close out the set.
“They played really well in that stretch,” Opsal said of the Bobcats.
Rachel Isom began the third set by serving the first nine points as the Trojans won the final set going away.
Madison will take on perennial Class C power Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central in Thursday’s final. The Kestrels beat Summerfield 25-9, 25-15, 25-7, to reach the final at Erie Mason. The match is at 7. Madison beat SMCC is last season’s regional final on its route to the semifinals.
It was the final game for Bobcat seniors Lauren Walker, who made several key plays in that second set, and Breanna Frederick.
Whiteford’s stats were not available.
CLASS C AT ERIE MASON
Monday’s results: Madison d. Erie Mason; Summerfield d. Blissfield; Monroe SMCC d. Britton Deerfield
Wednesday’s games: Madison d. Whiteford, 25-14, 25-21, 25-6; SMCC d. Summerfield, 25-9, 25-15, 25-7.
Thursday’s game: Final, SMCC vs. Madison (46-8-2), 7 p.m.