CRYSTAL FALLS—Playoff time is here. At last!
Forest Park’s volleyball team polished off its final two regular season opponents last week, earning 3-0 wins at home against Kingsford Oct. 29 and at Bark River-Harris on Halloween night.
The Lady Trojans finish their regular season with a 26-1-5 overall record and 12-0 in the Skyline Conference. (Someone with a lot of time on their hands should look up the last time Forest Park lost to a Skyline opponent. It’s been a long, long time.)
This week, all the action is at Ewen-Trout Creek High School, site of the Class D District 127 tournament. The Lady Trojans drew a first round bye and will face Watersmeet at 5:30 Central Time on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the first semifinal match.
The host Panthers will face the first round winner (Bessemer or Wakefield-Marenisco) in the other semifinal, which starts at about 7 Central.
The District 127 title match is Thursday, Nov. 7, at 6 Central Time, between the two Wednesday winners. The winner advances to the Class D regional tournament at Negaunee.
Last week started with flowers, vinyl balloons and serious sentimentality. It was senior night against Kingsford, Forest Park’s final home match and the last time to admire the volleyball skills of Hannah Marinoff, Kendra Campbell and Lexi Gussert on their home floor.
Forest Park had its ups and downs all night but won 3-0 on scores of 26-24, 25-20, 25-18.
The first and third sets were nearly carbon copies and explain why Coach Bjork gets frustrated with her talented team. In the first set, Kendra Campbell’s four points and six by Libby Shamion got FP away to a 7-1 start. Then FP stopped winning points, and Kingsford rallied back in front with five from Emily Murdock and three by Lillian Stajus.
After being ahead 7-1, the Lady Trojans now trailed 13-17. Then Forest Park turned it on again. Maria Stankewicz fired three to tie it 18-18, and it stayed close until FP fought out the 26-24 win.
In the third set, Campbell, Shamion and Stankewicz served FP to a 11-2 lead. But the Flivvers’ Stajus came back with a six-point stay on serve, as Kingsford surged ahead 14-13. Kelsi Hendrickson’s two got momentum back, and Stankewicz later had a four-point spell that got FP to 24-18.
Stankewicz was FP’s star on serve with a three-point spell in the first set; a four and three a in the second; and a three and a four in the third.
Meanwhile, Gussert struggled with her jump serve and won just two points on serve all night. She made up for it with 17 kills, two digs and two blocks and was all over the court, chasing down wayward balls, keeping them in play and smashing shots at the Flivver players. That’s the kind of play Lady Trojan fans have enjoyed for the last four years … and what they are going to miss next fall.
Lexi Gussert, 17 kills; Maria Stankewicz, 5 aces, 24 assists; Michaela Steiro, 3 kills; Kendra Campbell, 5 kills, 3 digs; Libby Shamion, 6 kills, 4 aces.
Look out, world! The Lady Trojans had their playoff faces on at Bark River-Harris on Oct. 31, making fast work of the Broncos 3-0. Scores were 25-3, 25-12, 25-11.
Just the thing Coach Bjork wanted to see. “Good team win,” she wrote. “Everyone contributed.” She especially mentioned seniors Campbell (“great job serving”), Gussert (“aggressive at the net”) and Marinoff (“filling our libero position nicely”).
The coach said she mixed up the lineup a bit, adding “We are going to keep pushing our limits in practice.”
Gussert, 13 kills, 4 blocks; Campbell, 6 kills, 5 aces, 2 blocks; Shamion, 5 kills, 3 aces; Stankewicz, 13 assists; Kelsi Hendrickson, 5 assists.