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Volleyball: Carney-Nadeau sweeps Chassell in regional final

Chassell's Trisha Pietila (3) and Linnea Huhta (11) leap to block the ball hit by Carney-Nadeau's Heidi Kirschner (17) in the Division 4 Regional 25 volleyball final at Forest Park High School on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Crystal Falls, Mich. (Matt McCarthy/Iron Mountain Daily News)

CRYSTAL FALLS — In straight sets and in fairly dominating fashion, Carney-Nadeau dispatched Chassell (25-16, 25-11, 25-2), to win their third Division 4 Regional championship in a row, Thursday night at the Eddie Chambers Memorial Gymnasium at Forest Park High School.

Carney-Nadeau advances to the state quarterfinal against Rudyard on Tuesday in Petoskey.

“Chassell is a scrappy team, and they play great defense,” said C-N head coach Steve Kedsch. “We needed to hit and attack the ball hard at them, when we did that is when we scored lots of our points.”

Chassell, who reached the championship match on a bye with the entire Bessemer district having to forfeit, responded fairly well in the opening set, after falling behind 9-1 to the Wolves, in the early stages of the set. Carney libero Mackenzie Walcher and freshman Samantha Kedsch served the Wolves to their early lead.

Chassell’s communication got better as the set went on, which helped them score some points, which improved their confidence as well. The Panthers Alia Palosaari served her team back into contention in the set with the score 16-10.

With the score 20-16 Wolves, the most exciting moment of the match took place. There was a very long rally of back and forth play, that ended with Carney senior Haley Ernest diving to the floor for the second time, to barely eek the ball over the net, as Chassell, thinking they had won the point, had all turned away from the net to celebrate having won the long and exciting rally.

When the ball hit the floor, a huge roar went over the crowd on both sides of the gym, as Ernest jumped up and took congratulatory high fives and pats on the back from her teammates.

“Our girls weren’t going to give up tonight, they weren’t going to give (Chassell) anything easy tonight. Our effort was excellent,” coach Kedsch said.

The second set began with Chassell grabbing an early 3-1 lead; the set was see-saw back and forth with the score being within one point of one another until the Wolves got out to a 15-10 lead, drawing a timeout from Panthers head coach Karli McMullen.

After a side-out and the score 17-11 Wolves, senior Liana Blahnik took the ball and served the Wolves to a 25-11 win, with eight straight points. Skyline Central Conference player of the year, Taylor Kedsch of the Wolves sensational front row play kicked in high gear in the second set, with several impressive blocks and kills, which had the Panthers reeling.

In the beginning stages of the final set, there were a couple of different short rally’s that were competitive in their own right, despite Carney getting out to a 6-1 lead, behind the strong serving of Walcher. With the score 10-2, Carney junior Malorie Baumler came up in the Wolves serving rotation. Baumler’s serves were as thundering and strong as any the Panters had received all evening.

Baumler served 15 straight points, with 8 aces, to put the match away with an overwhelming 25-2 set final set victory for the undefeated Wolves.

“Her confidence grew as each serve after the other was successful. They were getting hit harder and harder,” coach Kedsch added.

Despite coming into the match with a (13-1) record on the season, the Panthers season ended with the loss.

“This year was our first district championship in over four years,” McMullen said. “It felt pretty good to win the district and get to this regional.”

“In the second set, we played like ourselves, we were confident and communicated well,” McMullen added. “The other two sets, we shot ourselves in the foot. But Carney is a great team, we expected them to be this good and I wish them luck going forward.”

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