By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion varsity volleyball team played one of its most intense matches of the season during the Class A District Championship Friday night at Lake Orion High School, but even tremendous play could not see them past the second-ranked Clarkston Wolves.
The Dragons, who entered the postseason as honorable mention in the state rankings, lost 3-2 in the best of five-games match that saw both teams edging one another in points and games in back and forth seesaw battle.
After the loss, Dragons Head Coach Tony Scavarda praised both teams’ play, saying his team did everything they could in the contest.
“They played a solid match and I’m proud of them. They played hard and they fought. And that’s (Clarkston) one of the best teams in the state right there, they have been all season,” Scavarda.said.
“No regrets here, and I know (the team) doesn’t have any regrets because they left it on the court, and that’s all I wanted tonight. We have been a little up and down as of late, these past few weeks, so I just wanted them to bring it tonight and play competitive. And we did more than that, we put ourselves in position to actually win the game,” he said.
Lake Orion opened the match with a game one that saw the teams virtually trading points before the Dragons pulled ahead at the end, winning 25-22.
In the second game, Clarskton jumped out to an 8-1 lead, then a 13-5 lead. Orion battled back, gaining points until the game was tied at 21. Orion lead at 23-22 before Clarkston pulled ahead, winning 25-23.
Clarkston dominated game 3, winning 25-14, but Orion rallied and in game 4 jumped out to early lead.
Clarkston battled back to tie it at 9-9, pulling ahead to a 12-10 lead. It seemed desperate for Orion at that point, but the Lady Dragons showed their Orion heart and continued chipping away at Clarkston until finally taking the lead at 20-19. After that Orion went on a run, winning 25-21.
Game 5 was a back and forth battle with the score tied eight times, when, at 12-12, Scarvarda called a timeout. After the break the Wolves won the next three points, winning 15-12 and dashing the Dragons hopes for a district championship.
“Every set was like that: We’d make a run, they’d make a run. It seemed like there was no good flow to the game. It was just one team make a run, the other team make a run that might have been a little longer that ended up winning the game for them. And great teams do that,” Scavarda said.
Senior Leah Kalugar and junior Danielle Sargent both had 12 kills, while senior Mallorie Berriman added 11 kills and assisted on 13 blocks. Senior Lindsay Wightman had 18 digs and three aces for the Dragons.
“We played tough, we sided-out well. That’s just a very good team. They have two great weapons in the front row and two good outside hitters that can put a ball away for them when they need a kill. So that’s tough to deal with,” Scavarda said.
“The season has been kind of bittersweet. We’ve had a lot of great moments, but we haven’t been consistent.
“We haven’t played this level consistently, if so we’d probably be a top five team in the state all year if we would have played with this type of fire and energy. We brought it out here and there but it hasn’t been on a consistent basis,” Scavarda said.
The Dragons finished the season with a 45-15-1 record, including a second straight OAA Red League title. They also defeated the Wolves in another close match during the regular season.
“I’m very happy with winning league, especially when that team was in our league. We did accomplish some really good things this year,” Scavarda said.
Clarkston (49-5-0) now competes in the New Baltimore Anchor Bay regional on Tuesday and will face state-ranked Macomb Dakota.
“This is really a sour note to end on but it’s also really good because not too many teams play them that tough. I’m still very proud of the kids.
“We have eight seniors that this is going to be the last time that they’re on the Lake Orion court. I’m just very proud of how we competed and how they let it all hang out for their last game,” Scavarda said.
By Jim Newell