MIDLAND — Traverse City West had won every district and regional match this season in three straight games.
Faced with a daunting 0-2 deficit in Tuesday’s Class A state quarterfinal at Midland, the Titans tried to win three straight once again.
West went two-thirds of the way, forcing a decisive fifth game before falling to repeat Final Four entrant and No. 6-ranked Northville, 17-25, 14-25, 27-25, 25-22, 13-15.
“We definitely fought back,” Titans coach Emily Baumann said. “We started a little slow, like we normally do. But we definitely played out of our minds the last couple of games. You can’t ask for anything more. If you’re going to go out, at least you go out fighting.”
West suffered a setback almost right off the bat, as outside hitter Kimmy Bilinski left the match with a left foot injury in the first game, with Northville up 17-12. She didn’t return, and was later on the bench with crutches.
“Kimmy is a solid passer, solid everything, so it definitely hurt us,” Baumann said. “But Maggie (Gray) stepped up big time and played awesome.”
Led by outside hitter Symone Abbott, the Mustangs looked poised to take the match quickly after 25-17 and 25-14 victories to start things off.
“I even told them, when I coached before, we were down 2-0 and came back and won it in five,” Baumann said. “That was in my first year of coaching. We ended up going to the semifinals that year. I knew it wasn’t over and they just had to believe in themselves and step up and start playing. And they did.”
Then TC West caught fire.
The Titans jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the third game. Northville would retake the lead 22-19 before the Titans closed with an 8-3 run including a stuff block and back-to-back kills from Katie Placek to win 27-25. Mikenna Ray gave West the win with an ace to finish off the comeback.