Historic run for Portland St. Patrick volleyball ends in state quarterfinals

Portland St. Patrick's historic volleyball season ended with a four-set loss to Auburn Hills Oakland Christian Tuesday night at Lake Fenton High School.

Portland St. Patrick’s historic volleyball season ended with a four-set loss to Auburn Hills Oakland Christian Tuesday night at Lake Fenton High School.

LAKE FENTON – Nothing that the Portland St. Patrick volleyball team accomplished this season surprised senior Kelsey Schneider.

Capturing the program’s first district title in 25 seasons, grabbing the first-ever regional title in school history, it was all something Schneider saw as a possibility with the influx of new talent and the second-year teachings of coach Heidi Wenzel – even though the Shamrock had just 11 victories a season ago.

It was a historic run for Portland St. Patrick, but one that came to an end Tuesday night.

The Shamrocks fell in four sets – 25-22, 16-25, 17-25, 19-25 – to Auburn Hills Oakland Christian in the Class D state quarterfinals at Lake Fenton High School.

“We got to keep our heads up,” said the libero, who had a team-high 22 digs. “They were a great team.

“(This run) has meant a lot to us. It’s given us a lot of hope for next year, even though I won’t be here. …It’s really great that all of the hard work has paid off and that we could get this far.”

Portland St. Patrick had its hands full Tuesday night, as the Shamrocks (29-10-4) were paired with the No. 6-ranked Lancers. Portland St. Patrick didn’t seem fazed by the ranking attached to its opponents name as it battled back from an early 12-6 deficit to take the first set, 25-22.

The second set, however, was all Oakland Christian, and one of the state’s premier programs jumped out to a quick 14-5 lead. But the Shamrocks battled back once again and rattled off a 5-0 run, which included a kill and block from senior middle hitter Hannah Greenwood, who had a team-high 13 kills. The Lancers, however, proved to be too much down the stretch and closed out Game 2 with 4-0 and 5-0 scoring spurts.

“A lot of it was our mentality, and they just came out strong (in Game 2),” Greenwood said. “We knew we were going to have to come out strong, but they took over and we really couldn’t come back.”

Portland St. Patrick held a 5-4 lead in the third set, but Oakland Christian rattled off a 4-0 run after the Shamrocks’ fifth point and never trailed again.

Wenzel’s team was on the cusp of forcing the deciding fifth set when sophomore Annie Gunderman’s kill put Portland St. Patrick within one point, 17-16, of the Lancers. But the state’s sixth-ranked team went on to close the match with a 7-3 run.

“I was proud of them, they didn’t have a lot of tears,” Wenzel said. “Obviously, the seniors had some tears, but they were worked hard. They progressed throughout the season, and we made a heck of a run in the postseason.

“We had a lot of fun doing it.”

Junior Amelia Schrauben led the Shamrocks with 22 assists and junior Katie Coyne had a team-high three aces.

Contact James L. Edwards III at Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.

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