Harper Creek junior Charley Andrews hammered down the final kill of the day at Pennfield High School, and with that, the Beavers earned the All-City volleyball championship for the second straight year.
In a rematch of last year’s tournament final, Class B No. 8-ranked Harper Creek held off Class D top-ranked St. Philip (25-15, 25-16) on Saturday, giving the Beavers the Mick Haley All-City Tournament trophy for the second straight year.
“I think we had to work a lot harder (than last year),” Andrews said. “We knew that we wanted to be the first Harper Creek team to be back-to-back All-City champs and it was really special for us.”
The Beavers had split with St. Philip in pool play (25-15, 23-25) and the clinching match saw the two teams tied eight times before Harper Creek pulled away late.
“I’m not going to lie – it’s nice whenever you have the chance to beat St. Phil,” said Harper Creek head coach Terra King. “We’ve taken the other side of that game many a times, so its nice to be on this side of it. They’ve got a great team, they’ve obviously got a great coaching staff. I’m honored just to be able to coach against them and I know the girls, the rivalry is there and the girls love playing the game.”
While Harper Creek was happy to again be crowned city champion, the celebration was subdued in comparison to last year’s victory.
“This year I think the expectation is there that this would have been a major upset and we would have been upset with ourselves had we not been able to pull this off,” King explained. “The girls know what they want, they are determined to get it and they’re just not going to let anything get in our way.”
Harper Creek advanced to the finals with a win over Lakeview (25-19, 25-18). In pool play, the Beavers defeated Battle Creek Central (25-6, 25-14), Lakeview (25-17, 25-17) and Pennfield (25-13, 25-22) along with the split with the Fighting Tigers.
Andrews led Harper Creek on the day with 66 kills, four blocks, 12 aces and 30 digs. Jacey Bowers had 19 digs; Jess Cadena had 22 kills and 27 digs; Katie Wade had 17 kills, seven aces, six blocks, 173 assists and 15 digs; Kim Kusler had 25 kills and six blocks; and Olivia Leson had 36 kills, 11 aces and 44 digs.
In the other semifinal, St. Philip defeated Pennfield (25-21, 25-12). In pool play, the Fighting Tigers split with Harper Creek with wins over Pennfield (25-16, 25-15), Battle Creek Central (25-13, 25-14) and Lakeview (25-12, 25-17).
Leading St. Philip (33-11-2) was Abby McKinzie with 44 kills, six aces and 34 digs. Anna Lehouiller had 15 kills, 18 aces; McKenna Haley had 17 digs; Kameron Haley had 61 digs; Taylor Pessetti had 105 assists and 13 digs; and Morgan Luoma had 36 kills, eight aces and 37 digs.
Pennfield advanced to the semifinals thanks to pool play wins over Battle Creek Central (25-14, 25-9) and Lakeview (25-21, 25-20).
Leading the Panthers (25-10-2) was Alexa Stephenson with 27 kills. Teone Lewis had 19 kills and 11 blocks; Montana Rench had 64 digs; Molly Boles had 34 digs; Kennedy Barlond had 28 assists and Kailey Jackson had 26 assists.
Lakeview made it to the semifinals thanks to a pool play win over Battle Creek Central (25-12, 25-10).
The Spartans (24-23) were led by Sidney Schiller with 27 kills, eight blocks and 16 digs. Rose Tecumseh had 27 kills, five blocks and 19 digs; Reagan Smith had 24 kills; Samantha Vosburg had 21 digs; Emily Eldridge had eight aces; Kayla Callaway had three aces and Emma Morey had 61 assists.
The Bearcats were led on the day by Mya Trevino with eight kills. Jamesha Smith had 14 blocks; Eirion Traylor had 27 assists and Logann Jackson had five digs and two aces.
“It’s always exciting to be in the city tournament,” King said. “I’ve been here 10 years, and anything can happen on All-City day – that goes back to when I played here. Teams are looking to pick teams off. Emotions and energy are high and anyone can take the day. I’m glad we were able to keep ourselves focused and make it happen. But there is a lot of good volleyball in our area and a lot of good teams here today.”
Nick Buckley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley