KINGSFORD - Two unbeaten conference champions played a five-set volleyball match Tuesday.
But one wouldn't expect anything less from Forest Park and Kingsford.
The Trojans, with Lexi Gussert and others making big plays, outlasted the Flivvers 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 20-25, 15-8).
Forest Park’s Gina Graff bumps a serve in Tuesday’s match with Kingsford.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photos
Forest Park’s Maria DeMuri (5) looks for a path past Kingsford’s Lauren Smith (13) and Lillian Slajus (14).
Kingsford’s Carlee Benzie (3) slaps the ball at Forest Park’s Mindy DeNell (7).
Forest Park’s Lexi Gussert (9) sends the ball at Kingsford’s Andrea Roell (8).
"Great match," Forest Park Coach Kim Bjork said. "Our girls did a good job communicating on the floor.
"Kingsford has a well rounded team and they pushed our girls to play at a level they haven't played at in a long time."
Gussert registered 23 kills and 45 digs. Gina Graff tallied 41 digs and Maria Stankewicz had 36 assists.
"We knew what we were getting into," Kingsford Coach Mandie Meyer said. "They're a good team and it was a good challenge.
"This is the kind of competition we'll probably see downstate if that happens."
The six-foot Gussert, drawing the attention of Division 1 basketball programs, looks good enough for college volleyball. And that comes from the Flivver coach, a standout at Northern Michigan University.
"She's athletic, that's for sure," Meyer said. "She plays all the way around and that says a lot.
"I'm not going to say she killed us because they had a lot of contributions."
Gussert's two-hand push shot deep in the corner closed out the first set.
Kingsford, sparked by a Margo Wittenbach ace and two-hand kill, rallied from a 20-16 deficit in the second set. A Brooke Sanford tip kill and Carlee Benzie spike helped seal the win.
In the third set, Forest Park never allowed Forest Park any closer than five after building a 15-6 cushion. A Kendra Campbell spike along with a blast and ace from Gussert turned back the Flivvers.
Kingsford snapped an 11-11 tie and never trailed from there in the fourth set.
The deciding fifth set saw the Trojans pull away behind the serving of freshman Maria Stankewicz, who registered five straight points for an 8-3 advantage.
"They out serve-received us," Meyer said. "We didn't have good enough passes to run our offense the way we normally do.
"There were times when we didn't take chances. We got timid,"
The Trojans also added fifth-set kills from Mindy DeNell, Libby Shamion and Campbell to put away the Flivvers.
"I love having this match at the end of our season," Bjork said. "It really wakes us up for postseason play.
"We had numerous girls contribute tonight. It was nice to see our girls pull together. Hopefully, we can keep building as we enter into the postseason."
Lauren Smith (13) and Wittenbach (9) paced the Flivvers in kills.
"It's good to see the things we need to improve on," Meyer said. "I told the girls not to hang their heads because they didn't play bad. It was a good game."
Forest Park (26-3-3 overall, 11-0 Skyline) and Kingsford will aim to close out the regular season with perfect conference marks Thursday. The Trojans, Skyline champs since 1995, will take on Bark River-Harris while the Flivvers host Great Northern Conference foe Gladstone.
Kingsford's junior varsity, behind the hitting of Amber Larson and Sammy Lindeman, defeated Forest Park 2-0. Nicole Roberge led the Flivvers at the setting position and added eight aces while Annika Erickson had four blocks.
Kills - Lauren Smith 13, Margo Wittenbach 9, Carlee Benzie 5, Andrea Roell 5, Lillian Slajus 3, Shelby Londo 2.
Ace serves - Brooke Sanford 2, Wittenbach 2, Slajus 1.
Assists - Sanford 15.
Lexi Gussert - 23 kills, 3 aces, 45 digs, 1 assist, 4 blocks.
Mindy DeNell - 5 kills, 17 digs, 1 assist.
Gina Graff - 1 ace, 41 digs.
Abby Sommers - 4 aces, 6 digs.
Maria Stankewicz - 4 kills, 5 aces, 9 digs, 36 assists.
Libby Shamion - 4 kills, 1 ace, 9 digs.
Kendra Campbell - 5 kills.
Mary Grandahl - 2 kills, 1 block.
Sam Nylund - 4 digs.