Eagles soar past Forest Park to regional title
“Let it go!” calls out Forest Park’s Maria Stankewicz (3), as a Stephenson shot lands out of bounds. Hustling in on the play are Libby Shamion (4), Michaela Steiro (5) and Annie Taylor (12).
NEGAUNEE—Make no mistake. Forest Park is still the elite Class D volleyball program in the western U.P. But the Lady Trojans’ four-year reign as regional champions ended here Nov. 13.
Stephenson ended it by outplaying Forest Park in the regional title match, earning a 3-0 win on scores of 25-15, 25-17 and 25-16. Coach Kim Bjork’s squad finishes the year with a record of 30-5-3, including tournaments.
The Eagles move on to face Onaway in a Class D state quarterfinal match Nov. 18 at Manistique.
Forest Park has been the kingpin of Class D volleyball for over a decade. This is just the third time the Lady Trojans have not won the regional title since the winter 2001-02 season. (The others were winter 2005-06 and fall 2009.) So that’s 11 regional trophies in 14 seasons for FP.
It takes a mighty good team overthrow a power like that, but the Eagles had the right stuff. They played smart and aggressively and got the Trojans mixed up too many times.
“They’re a great team,” Coach Kim Bjork said. “They’re long, they’re tall, and they cover the floor well.
“I give them a lot of credit. They were the better team tonight.”
The monster snowstorm early last week pushed the regional semifinal matches back a day to Nov. 12, and the Lady Trojans opened with a 3-1 win over Lake Linden-Hubbell. The scores were 25-12, 20-25, 25-14, 25-13.
The coach said her team was aggressive in the first set. “We found the seams in their defense and played aggressively,” she said. That’s just the way she likes it.
In the second set, though, FP backed off on its intensity, in a set that saw slow play, unforced errors, and a Lakes win. So it was back to Plan A in the third and fourth sets. “I give the girls credit,” she said. “They bounced back and finished the match.”
Among the stat highlights was the serving: Forest Park had only one service error in four sets.