Ready for a challenge

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Preparation key for Mohawks in regional win over Beal City

RAVENNA — If knowledge is power then the Morley Stanwood volleyball team might be the smartest group of players in the school.

There was a significant difference between how the Morley Stanwood volleyball team played against Beal City on Tuesday and the Mohawks’ district championship victory over Shelby last week.

The Mohawks defeated the Aggies in three games in the Class C regional semifinal at Ravenna High School, 25-22, 25-17, 25-14 to advance to the final against North Muskegon on Thursday evening.

HANDS UP: Morley Stanwood's Bailey Cairnduff (7) and Brianna Wiersema (3) go up for the block against Beal City's Heather Griffis during Tuesday night's Class C regional semifinal at Ravenna High School. (Pioneer photo/Bob Allan)

It was easy to explain, said Morley Stanwood’s Melissa Holland.

“We were a little nervous against Shelby because we didn’t have any footage or have much knowledge,” Holland said after handing out seven assists. “With Beal (City), we knew where to hit, where to tip and that helps build confidence.”

Morley Stanwood played Beal City just two weeks ago at the St. Louis Invitational, which was part of the Mohawks tournament victory.

When setting up the game plan, Morley Stanwood coach Robin Kozuch was able to attack the Aggies’ weaknesses, which the players executed fully.

“We had close sets with them and we knew they would be scrappy,” Kozuch said. “We knew what was coming at us and we prepared for it.”

Because the Mohawks felt comfortable with the game plan, they played relaxed. The two teams traded points in the opening game until Morley Stanwood scored six straight points for a 14-9 lead. Though the Aggies cut the lead to 14-13 and eventually 24-22, a Bailey Cairnduff kill ended the first game.

Beal City, however, answered to open the second set, scoring the first 10 points and leading Kozuch to burn both timeouts.

Once on track, the Mohawks outscored the Aggies 25-7 the rest of the way to take the game.

“We just kind of settled and got caught off guard,” Holland said. “They weren’t going to let us win without putting up a fight for every point. It opened our eyes.”

Kozuch agreed.

“I think we came out too relaxed, it didn’t seem like we had a lot of fire,” she said.

That was until Morley Stanwood turned it on in the second game. That momentum lasted into the third game where the Mohawks led 17-4 at one point before taking the contest 25-14.

Alexis Huntey led the Morley Stanwood attack with 18 kills, 15 digs and three aces. Bailey Cairnduff handed out 15 assists, 10 kills and two blocks, while Brett Cheseboro had 11 digs.

Sam Carey served four aces.

Morley Stanwood now advances to the regional final against North Muskegon. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at Ravenna High School.

“We are going to watch some video and have the ladies prepared,” Kozuch said.

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