By RON DEUTER
IRON MOUNTAIN - A wild match with an even wilder finish.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
Iron Mountain’s Marti Pirkola attacks the Manistique defense of Leah Cook (11) and Sydney Chartier (8) during Thursday’s Mid-Peninsula Conference volleyball match.
Manistique, trailing 14-8 in a decisive fifth set, stunned Iron Mountain with eight unanswered points and walked out of the Mountaineer gym with a 3-2 (25-11, 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 16-14) Mid-Peninsula Conference victory here Thursday evening.
"It's a tough one to swallow," Mountaineers coach Jeanne Newberry said.
In reality, the match was one in which Manistique could have won in three sets. The Emeralds controlled the first set, rallied from 7-1 and 21-19 deficits in set two, and held a 12-4 lead in set three. But Iron Mountain found a spark and climbed out of the set-three hole to save the match.
The Mountaineers then prevailed in a nip and tuck set four to force the fifth.
"In the first two sets we played great," said Manistique coach Amy Nixon, a Kingsford High School graduate. "Then we let it slip away from us in set three. I never thought we'd be going five, but Iron Mountain stepped up its game for sure."
The Mountaineers, riding the momentum of their wins in the third and fourth sets, opened a 7-1 lead on Manistique in the fifth. At 14-8, the match appeared all but over.
"The girls, I could see it in their face ," Nixon said. "They were starting to get down. I called timeout, rallied the troops, and man did they respond."
With sophomore Sydney Chartier at the serving line, a couple of kills by Hailey Hoholik ignited the comeback run. Two Iron Mountain hitting errors made it 14-12, and then Hoholik put down two more kills to knot the score at 14.
That's when Chartier, already successful on six straight serves, got even better. She flicked one off the top of the net that dropped straight down for the 15th point. Another tough serve followed, and Iron Mountain couldn't get a return over the net.
"To have a sophomore behind the line at match point, a girl who played the entire night, never left the floor," Nixon said. "She was exhausted, but she must have had ice in her veins or something. I don't know. She was back there, and put it in every time."
"Serve receive has been our Achilles' heel, and communication," Newberry said. "But it was a serving game tonight, most definitely. Back and forth."
Iron Mountain has 23 aces in the match. Alena Herman led with seven. Mandy Haferkorn and Bri Geyser hit five, and Marti Pirkola had four.
Manistique dropped 15 aces. Hoholik and Chartier each had four, while Leah Cook and Maggie Morrison hit three a piece.
Herman started at the serving line in set two, fueling Iron Mountain to its 7-1 open. Manistique, with Morrison overpowering the Mountaineers from the outside, closed the gap at 11-11. It stayed close until late. Iron Mountain, again with Herman serving, established a little breathing room. A block by Pirkola had IM up 21-19, but Morrison again came through for the Emeralds, and a trio of Iron Mountain errors, ended the set in favor of Manistique.
Morrison was the match leader with 16 kills. And she was again effective early in set three, as the Emeralds appeared poised for the runaway sweep. But an ace by Geyser broke the momentum, and then Iron Mountain's front row got to work. Cassie Feira and Herman knocked down points, and Geyser added a few more aces, including one to give Iron Mountain a lead at 13-12.
The set was tied 17-17 when Herman alertly dumped a second touch across the net to wide open spot in the middle of the floor, and Iron Mountain never lost the lead again. Manistique got as close as 23-22, but a couple of bad hits prevented a comeback.
Set four proved a tight battle till the end. Consecutive aces by Haferkorn busted a 19-19 tie. Chartier pushed one over for a tie at 21-21, but back-to-back aces by Pirkola forced the fifth set.
"I'm really proud of them because after coming off the Kingsford game, they were hanging their heads," Newberry said. "I told them we had to start over. That match was done. Same thing here tonight. We lost the first two, and I reminded them those sets are done. This is a best of five. We just have to pick it up. And they did."
Feira's eight kills led Iron Mountain. She also had a team-best 13 digs.
"As young as we are, we challenged at the net," Newberry said. "We did what we needed to do. We are improving every game, and that's all I can ask."
Manistique improved top 5-1 in Mid-Pen play. Iron Mountain (2-3 MPC) goes to Westwood Tuesday.
Iron Mountain's jayvees prevailed 2-0.
Hailey Hoholik - 7 kills, 4 aces, 3 digs; Breanna Bosanic - 1 dig; Morgan Kangas - 8 digs, 1 ace; Machaela Hinkson - 3 kills; Lexi Carlson - 2 block, 1 kill, 1 dig; Sydney Chartier - 4 aces, 3 digs, 5 kills; Leah Cook - 3 digs, 3 aces; Maggie Morrison - 16 kills, 3 aces, 11 digs.
Susie Hagan - 9 digs, 1 kill; Marti Pirkola - 3 digs, 5 kills, 2 blocks, 4 aces; Bri Geyser - 13 assists, 3 kills, 5 aces; Lindsey Tousignant - 1 dig; Desi Bottesi - 1 kill; Alena Herman - 11 digs, 4 assists, 4 kills, 7 aces; Mandy Haferkorn - 2 digs, 2 kills, 5 aces; Cassie Feira - 13 digs, 8 kills, 1 ace; Kristen Gendron - 10 digs, 1 ace.