Stephenson takes FP invite

North Dickinson second at 10-team tournament

Matt McCarthy/The Daily News Photos | FOREST PARK’S Chloe Sundell (8) and Megan Bucek (9) prepare to block at the net, as Iron Mountain’s Alex Smith (4) and McKenna Smith (13) send the ball over as Reagan Lundholm (12) looks on during Saturday’s Forest Park Invitational.

CRYSTAL FALLS — For the first time in seven years under the guidance of head coach Sara Johnson, the Stephenson Eagles claimed the annual Forest Park Invitational volleyball tournament.

The Eagles topped North Dickinson 21-18, 21-10 in the final of the 10-team tournament.

“We started slow this morning, in pool play, we were either hot or cold,” Johnson said. “But by the skin of our teeth, having tied Florence, we advanced on a tiebreaker. We scored more points overall then they did, so we made it to the final four, and got to play Carney in the semifinal.”

The Lady Eagles defeated Carney 21-9, 21-14, advancing to the title match.

“Our pool all took place in the other gym (Elementary Gym),” Johnson said. “I am very fortunate that the girls responded the way they did to the switch. Then to face North Dickinson again, we split with them in pool play, and come out and sweep them, I am so proud of the girls. We played in one of the two first matches of the day at 9 a.m., so it’s been a long day.”

Briana Smith (5) of North Dickinson hits the ball back to Norway’s McKenna Neuens (13) and Olivia Stanchina (1). Nordics Hannah Clark (1), Ashton Hord (2), Kassandra Cary (3) and Grace Mattson (8) follow the play.

Stephenson also won the Wykon Varsity Invite at West Iron County High School back on Aug. 24. Johnson noted that her team plays well together, enjoying the game and playing it with one another. Team morale is very high, she also noted, and has been throughout the season.

Florence, West Iron County, Norway, Iron Mountain, Munising, L’Anse and host Forest Park were the other teams in the tournament, which was played both at Eddie Chambers Memorial Gymnasium and the adjoining elementary school.

North Dickinson’s runner-up performance saw the Nordics drop only two of six sets in pool play, one each to Florence and Stephenson. Coach Sandy Haustein was happy for her girls’ second-place finish.

“This is the furthest we’ve ever made it in this tournament,” she said. “The girls played hard all day, and stuck together. Stephenson seemed to find our weaknesses at given times in the finals. They deserve to win, congratulations to them.”

Florence coach Joan Canfield was extremely pleased with her team’s effort.

“Today was very productive for our team,” she said. “We’ve had to battle with low numbers and injuries, including a season ending knee injury for our big hitter Kendra Milan. I’m proud of the girls for constantly having to adjust to new players, three freshmen whom have been added to the varsity roster, and new positions.”

Sidney Tomczak, who was out with a concussion, has now been moved to outside hitter and back row.

“I thought she did a fantastic job in new role on our team,” Canfield said. “We had a day of excellent serving and blocking as well. The record may not have shown the improvement this team made today but we know it and feel it’s only going to improve as we move forward.”

The Lady Trojans went 4-4 on the day, with their only sweep being against Munising. Florence went 5-3, sweeping Norway which went 2-6 on the day. Florence split with North Dickinson, Stephenson and West Iron. The Lady Wykons went 2-6 on the day.

West Iron coach Brenda Grubbs said her team struggled to get going on the day.

“We played through some injuries today,” she said. “Playing in a tournament like this, gives me a chance to switch things up a bit and try some different lineups, I was able to do that a little today.”

Veteran Iron Mountain coach Jeanne Newberry was optimistic of her team’s performance, despite going 3-5 on the day.

“We were in a 5/1 offense today, with Alex Lewis as our setter,” she said. “It was her first time in that roll and she did well, considering the different spots on both offense and defense, the new role forced her to play. She adapted well to it all day.”

Annslee Runsat at 28-for-28 and Chloe Bianco at 13-for-13, were both 100 percent serving on the day, Newberry noted.


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