ROGERS CITY-Before the start of the fifth set of Monday's Class D volleyball quarterfinal, members of Posen's volleyball team huddled together at the net to get themselves pumped up for what might have been their final game of the season.
Turns out it was just what the Vikings needed.
With its season on the line, Posen defeated Hillman in the ensuing set 15-10 to end a grueling five-game match at Rogers City High School. The Vikings won 26-24, 24-26, 25-19, 23-25 and 15-10.
News Photo by James Andersen
Posen’s Monica Bartz (6) tips a ball over the net as Hillman’s Alissa Jones attempts to block during a volleyball district quarterfinal on Monday at Rogers City High School.
The victory moves the Vikings to a semifinal matchup with Rogers City on Wednesday at 7:45 p.m. and Monday's win came as a welcome relief to Posen, which had to win the final two sets to advance.
"It definitely feels good to come out here and win," Posen coach Michelle Mulka said. The girls came out and left everything on the floor that last game and knew if they didn't, they were going to lose."
Korynn Hincka led Posen's charge in the final set, coming up with a kill, two blocks and three consecutive aces. She finished the night with eight kills, seven blocks and six aces.
"Korynn definitely stepped up in Game 5 for us," Mulka said. "She kept the intensity up on the whole team by stepping up and getting those blocks and definitely those aces; she hasn't had too many of those."
Hincka helped the Vikings jump out to a 4-1 lead, but Hillman came back and tied the set. After another barrage of points from Hincka, the Tigers closed a four-point gap to one, 8-7 and kept it close before the Vikings scored the last four points of the night.
Monica Bartz and Elizabeth Mulka also had aces during the final set.
Needing a win in the fourth set to advance, Hillman rallied back from a 17-10 deficit to eventually tie the set at 20. The set was later tied at 23, but Posen was able to score the final two points, which included a tip from Hincka, to force a deciding set.
Jensen Tchorzynski led Hillman with 15 kills and 16 digs. Kalen Tchorzynski added nine kills and 10 digs.
From the outset of the match, it seemed clear that neither team was on its way to a sweep and the first set proved it as the two teams tied five times before the midway point.
A kill from Jensen and an ace from Riley Appelgren marked the end of a late 5-1 Hillman run that gave the Tigers a 19-16 advantage, but the Vikings rallied back and the set eventually tied at 20 and again at 21. Back-to-back kills from Kalen and Alissa Jones gave Hillman a 23-21 lead, but it was Hincka who came up big for the Vikings again. As Posen ended the match with a 5-1 stretch, Hincka recorded three kills.
Mercedes Kowalski added five assists, nine digs and a kill for Posen and Ashley Meyers had 15 digs.
The two sides fought tooth and nail again in the second set with neither side leading by more than five points. Hillman rallied from a late 19-14 deficit and scored in bunches enough to top the Vikings the rest of the way. The Tigers pulled to within one, 22-21, before Posen scored again, but the rest of the set belonged to Hillman. After Posen knotted the score at 24, Kalen recorded a tip and a kill to give Hillman the win.
"I called a timeout and told them I expected them to win that game and they did and then we just fell apart in the fifth game," Hillman coach Amy Moir said.
Jones keyed a Hillman win in the third set as the Tigers broke a 19-all tie with a 6-0 run. During this run, Jones had three aces as Posen struggled with its serve reception.
Wednesday's matchup will mark the fourth time Posen has played Rogers City this season and the Hurons have been victorious in the first three matchups. Mulka is hopeful the result is different this time around.
"Hopefully this time we're a little more prepared for them and we're going to practice tomorrow and get even more prepared for them," Mulka said.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.