GRAYLING — Once Traverse City West grabbed the momentum from Midland Dow early in Tuesday’s Class A volleyball regional semifinal at Grayling High School, the Titans never gave it back.
West shook off a sluggish start that resulted in a 25-16 loss in the opening game to take three straight games in convincing fashion, 25-20, 25-21, 25-17, propelling the Titans into Thursday’s regional championship match.
Right off the bat, the Titans struggled with the accuracy of their attacks on offense, while their defense was unable to cover the Chargers’ big hitters. That led to a good pep talk from head coach Emily Baumann. Those words changed the complexion of the match as West came out looking like a different team in the next three games.
“I just said, ‘We are such a better team than this and we need to get on our game and play some volleyball,’” Baumann said of the talk she gave her team after the first game. “We were just very hesitant, looking at each other like, ‘you take it, no you take it,’ instead of being aggressive and going after it and taking it ourselves. It was just a little bit of nerves. It just took us a second to get into it and take off with it. We were just hesitant on defense, but we weren’t swinging it on offense. It was definitely a combination of both.”
Alyson Peters spearheaded the effort by the Titans’ defense, as they started diving into the open spaces on the floor and digging up Dow’s attacks. Peters led West with 19 digs, while Mattison Mokanyk and Mikenna Ray each had 12 digs.
“Coming into that second game we were thinking we have to push, we have to play our game,” said Peters. “The first game was shaky, but the second game we brought it.”