BAD AXE — A hard-fought victory in Game 1 of the Class C district opener here Monday night was all Bad Axe needed to build confidence and knock out the Greater Thumb East champion.
The short-handed Hatchets rallied from a 19-23 deficit in the opening game against Ubly, then took off, rolling to a 26-24, 25-19, 25-17 decision over the Bearcats.
Bad Axe advances to Wednesday’s district semifinal showdown against Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port, a winner over Sandusky in another opening-round match Monday.
“The first game went back and forth, with them coming out on top,” said Ubly coach Andy Gusa. “That's all it took to get them going. They played very well in the final two (games) and we were unable to match their play.”
Bad Axe relied on some of its younger players to pull it through the match, including four who were called up from the 30-5 overall junior varsity squad. Kayla Kokotovich, Lexie Shemka, Sarah Butch and Jordan Grigg all made major contributions.
“I am just so proud of the way these girls overcame some of the adversity,” said Bad Axe coach Mindy Breault. “We asked some of them to do some things they had never done before. The kept their cool. They really came through for us.”
Kokotovich chipped in 16 digs and seven kills while Shemka added 15 digs and two kills, Butch 12 digs, and Grigg a pair of aces.
Bad Axe’s usual big guns also did their jobs, including Rachel Breault and Emily Sisco. Breault had 16 kills and 20 digs while Sisco added 11 kills and 12 digs. Setter Alyssa Kociba notched 31 assists and 14 digs.
“We know Ubly has good blockers, so we know when we play them we have to hit the ball,” Breault said. “They are a very good defensive team and they will pick up any tips you have. We went in with the plan of hitting the ball.
“We tried to run the offense from antenna to antenna and make their blockers move. It seemed to work.”
Nicole Kubacki paced the Bearcats with 11 kills, 12 digs and 8-of-8 serving. Brittany Forman, who battled a leg injury during the match, added seven kills while Alyssa Briolat had 32 digs and was 14-of-14 serving, and Ashley Kubacki had 21 assists and was 7-of-7 serving.
In other Class C district matches Monday, Cass City beat Harbor Beach (25-10, 25-10, 25-10) and EPBP beat Sandusky (25-22, 13-25, 25-22, 25-23).
Megan Parrish led the Red Hawks in the win over the Pirates with 14 assists, seven digs and four aces. Logan Rowell added eight kills and three aces. Stephanie Leeson had seven assists, six kills and three aces, Shania Chambers had seven digs and Carley Hendrick had five kills.
For the Lakers in their win over the Redskins, Gala Shivley had 25 assists and three kills to lead the way. Kayla Deering added 13 kills, Taylor Volrich had 17 assists, Krissia Krohn had 10 assists, Rebecca Chambers six kills and Kacy Shetler four kills.
“It was a really good match,” said EPBP coach Karen Smith. “We are so evenly matched that it could have gone either way.”
EPBP will play Bad Axe at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Cass City will take on Unionville-Sebewaing Area in the late match. Both of those matches will be played at Bad Axe.
Class D at Caseville – A-F tops Port Hope
CASEVILLE — Akron-Fairgrove needed four games to get by Port Hope (25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23) in the opening round of Class D district action on Monday.
For the Bluestars, Kristen Kowaleski had 25 digs, nine points and five aces, Otyllia Abraham added 21 digs and five aces. Jessica Schuh had 22 digs, eight points, six blocks and six aces, Caitlyn Popour 16 digs seven points and four aces, Marissa Mascarro 23 digs 13 points and four aces and Marissa Schave 15 digs and four assists.
Class D at Peck – Deckerville rallies
PECK — Deckerville came back from a two-game deficit to defeat Carsonville-Port Sanilac (19-25, 19-25, 25-12, 25-13, 15-9) on Monday.
Jenna Varosi-Garavaglia was 16-of-16 serving with 24 assists and 20 digs to lead the Eagles. Teila Kreiner was 12-of-12 serving with 37 digs and 11 assists. Kori Nunn chipped in 56 digs, Tanessa Talaski had 13 digs and Kaleigh Spaetzel was 21-of-21 serving with 21 kills.
Here are some photos from the Ubly vs. Bad Axe match