KINGSFORD - With a stunning 10-0 rally to close the final set, Forest Park swept Lake Linden-Hubbell 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 to secure a spot in Thursday's MHSAA Class D Regional 32 championship match.
The Lady Trojans will face Superior Central, which outlasted North Dickinson 25-20, 24-26, 25-22, 15-25, 16-14 in an earlier down-to-the-wire semifinal, played at Kingsford High School Tuesday evening.
"If that doesn't show resiliency I don't know what does," Forest Park head coach Kim Bjork said of her team's run to close the match against the Lakes. "That was impressive. I told the girls we need to forget about mistakes, push through and work hard. And they showed it tonight. I'm very proud of them."
The Trojans, behind Lexi Gussert's 21 kills, held off the Lakes in two close sets to open the match, but then found themselves trailing 23-15 in set three.
With freshmen Maria Stankewicz in control at the serving stripe, Gussert reeled off six straight kills, using both power and finesse to bring the Trojans within two at 23-21.
"You can't say enough about the girl, she's very good," Bjork said of Gussert.
Two hitting errors and two shots out of bounds by the Lakes ended the match.
"We needed to put a block on a girl we couldn't stop," Lakes coach Karen Keranen said. "We tried. We tried mixing up our blockers, but she'd cut it one way or the other, and we just couldn't seem to position our defense around the block."
Lake Linden-Hubbell never led in set one but was tied as late as 22-22. A hitting error gave a point to Forest Park, and Gussert followed with a block and closed the set with a tip for a kill.
Set two was also close until kills by Libby Shamion and Gussert followed by an ace by Gina Graff and a couple of miscues by the Lakes helped the Trojans expand a 17-15 lead.
"We had girls stepping to the ball," Bjork said. "Each one made some plays. They all did great tonight. They all contributed."
Lake Linden was led by Mandy Perreault's eight kills. Ciara Larson added six more. Brittni Kisul had two kills, two blocks and a block assist.
Brooke Corrigan put up 11 digs for the Lakes, while Kisul had nine, Larson eight and Jaimie Middleton seven.
"I'm very proud of my girls," Keranen said. "We're going to lose eight seniors. My two middles will be hard to replace, Brittni and Mandy. We had a good season. You hate to lose it that way, but Crystal is respectable to lose to. But we sure wanted them though."