Haslett was looking for a way to forget about its underwhelming regular season. The Vikings, the preseason favorites to win the CAAC Red, finished third in their conference, and at times, looked as if they were going to fall apart.
With the regular season now in the rearview, Haslett seems to have found its footing when it matters most, as the Vikings defeated Fowlerville in three sets in the opening round of the Class B districts at Lansing Catholic on Tuesday night. Haslett will face Perry in the semifinals on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“We focused on, pretty much, win or go home,” said Vikings coach Drew Dudley about her team’s mentality heading into the postseason. “I told them that conference play is over, it doesn’t matter, we got to win.
“Especially, compared to the team they were last year — they went to the state quarterfinals — we’re trying to amount up to that, and focus on the tournament as a whole different season.”
Haslett started off Game 1 with a noticeable eagerness.
However, after getting out to a quick 6-2 lead, the Vikings’ fiery start quickly simmered. The Gladiators fought back and cut the lead to two, 18-16, down the stretch. But Haslett retaliated by scoring seven of the game’s last nine points to grab a 25-18 victory.
“I think it’s just how we normally play,” said the Vikings’ Shyan Goodrich. “I think we can always come out fighting strong.”
In Game 2, it was Fowlerville who took command early. The Gladiators jumped out to a 9-6 lead, which led to Dudley calling a timeout. Possibly the turning point in the match.
After the regrouping, Haslett went on a 19-6 run to win the match 25-15.
“I switched our setter out,” said Dudley. “We went from a 6-2 to a 5-1. The setter that I had start setting again, she carried the team, last year, to the state quarterfinals. It was more of a confidence thing and tournament-play experience that I thought would be beneficial for the team.”
Fowlerville fought hard in Game 3 to try and extend the series, even leading 16-14 at one point, but the Vikings closed it out down the stretch, once again, with a 25-20 victory.
“We definitely underestimated Haslett,” said Gladiators senior Maddie Baldwin. “We thought we could pull out a better game. I figured we would come back, but it just didn’t turn out that way.”