HOUGHTON LAKE – Finally! Beaverton got back on the court last Tuesday and picked up where they left off. The Beavers dominated the previously undefeated Calumet Cooper Kings to earn another trip to the Final Four, their second in a row. They have played so well since the tournament started on November 4 that they are yet to drop a set. They are 15-0 in sets heading into their finals matchup with defending state champion and currently number one ranked Monroe St. Mary Catholic.
“We played a good match from start to finish,” said Coach Steve Evans. “Calumet has some big hitters that we needed to limit by pressuring their defense. They picked up some great balls on defense. I’m really proud of this team and glad they are able to finish their season in Battle Creek.”
The Beavers trailed only briefly in the match. They fell behind 2-0 in the opening moments of the first set before Alexis Grove served six straight points and Molly Gerow took over at the net with five kills during a 7-0 run. They took a 7-2 lead on their way to a 25-13 victory. A block and two kills by Faith Danielak early in the second set helped the Beavers jump out to a 14-4 lead before the Cooper Kings settled down and started running their offense. They were able to climb within four points, 20-16, but that was as close as they would get as Beaverton went on to win the second set 25-18.
The third set was also tight in the early going. Calumet actually held a 6-4 lead before the Beavers pulled away. Leiyah Mungin served six straight points aided by kills from Mady Pahl (2), Hannah Sterns (2) and Becca Wirt. The spurt put the Beaverton up by nine on their way to a comfortable 25-14 win.
This year’s trip to Battle Creek has a different feel and it’s not just due to the trials and tribulations of a season played in the shadow of a pandemic. The Beavers played the whole year like they expected a return trip to Battle Creek. They didn’t get down when they started the year 0-3 in Traverse City. The early games were not about padding their record. It was about going wherever necessary for good competition. Mady Pahl said as much after the match. “It feels very different than last year. We have already experienced it once so now I think that this trip to Battle Creek is going to be a lot more enjoyable. We are going to be more settled.”
When asked what it was like when they finally got the go ahead to play she said, “We were relaxed throughout the week it really didn’t settle in until today. We practiced like we had all year and got back to what we were doing. Obviously we can still play.” She was certainly correct on the point. The Beavers didn’t look like they were affected by the long layoff.
Becca Wirt mentioned that at times they weren’t sure if they would finish the season with all of the “on and off stuff, but we pushed through it and we are ready.” She went on to say that “today was a little nerve wracking, but my team helped me through it. We are excited and are expecting a good game on Thursday.”
Pahl led the Beavers with 28 assists, 15 digs and seven kills. Gerow had 13 kills and 15 digs. Other leaders for Beaverton included; Danielak seven kills, Grove eight digs, Mungin 10 digs, Stearns five kills and Wirt four kills. Beaverton had a 32-5 record heading into their semifinal match with St. Mary’s.