The Onaway volleyball team overcame one longstanding obstacle on Tuesday, beating Pellston for the first time in the postseason.
The Cardinals are hoping to break through another barrier tonight.
Onaway (46-4-3) will face Rudyard in a Class D regional final at 6:30 p.m., tonight in St. Ignace and is hoping to advance beyond the regional final for the first time in four tries. The Cardinals last advanced to the regional final in 2008, but were swept by Pellston.
News File Photo
The Onaway volleyball team celebrates its Class D district title after sweeping Posen in a district final. The Cardinals will face Rudyard in a regional final tonight with the winner moving on to a quarterfinal next week in Petoskey.
Though his current group of players has never played in a regional final, Onaway coach Steve Watson is confident the Cardinals can rise to the challenge, especially with the way they've been playing. They swept two teams en route to winning a district title and rallied back to win three straight games after falling behind against the Hornets on Tuesday.
"Our program has been in the position three times and never been able to close the deal. This group has never been out of the regionals, so it's new territory for the girls," Watson said.
The Bulldogs have hardly been a slouch this postseason, sweeping two teams for a district crown and then rallying to beat St. Ignace in four games on Tuesday. Kayla Coffey had 21 kills and two blocks for Rudyard while Dominque Tremblay had a school-record 39 digs in the match.
Class D volleyball regional final
Onaway vs. Rudyard
6:30 p.m., tonight at St. Ignace Middle School
Notes: This is Onaway's fourth apperance in the regional final...Rudyard is in the midst of its longest postseason apperance since U.P. volleyball teams began participating in the state tournament...The winner will advance to face either Eben Junction Superior Central or Crystal Falls Forest Park in a quarterfinal on Tuesday in Petoskey.
Watson said the two teams scrimmaged each other briefly in August, but he doesn't know much about the Bulldogs. Onaway watched the first game of Rudyard's match on Tuesday and Watson said he saw a lot of improvement in the Bulldogs.
"For what I can gather, they've improved a lot," Watson said. "You don't get to the regional final by being bad."
While the Cardinals have been playing well and haven't lost since October, Watson would like to see his team come out a little stronger than it did on Tuesday when the first few games were decided by just a few points.
"We played pretty tight for the first two sets," Watson said. "We weren't serving as tough, we weren't serve receiving well and we weren't handling the ball the way we should have."
Onaway may have experienced some jitters Tuesday against Pellston because of its history with the Hornets, but overcame that quickly and overpowered the Hornets with strong all-around play. Watson expects his team to play more confidently against Rudyard.
"These girls knew Pellston was going to be formidable and they should play really good (tonight)," Watson said.
Tonight's winner will advance to a quarterfinal next week in Petoskey.