REMUS – Gladwin’s season came to an end last Thursday when Clare took a hard fought, five set win in the district finals at Chippewa Hills. Gladwin had beaten the Pioneers multiple times over the last two years including an elimination game in the district semifinals last year.
“We knew that Clare was chomping at the bit to get at us,” said Coach Tony Wetmore. “Every set we played Clare this year they jumped all over us in the beginning and we had to fight our way back.” This match was no exception. Clare jumped out to an 8-2 lead putting the Flying G’s on the defensive from the start. Gladwin was able to fight back and take the first set 25-23.
The Pioneers jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the second set before Gladwin got rolling. The Flying G’s eventually took a 20-15 lead and with momentum on their side it looked like they were going to take a big lead in the match. Clare had other ideas and fought back scoring ten of the next eleven points and winning the set 25-21.
The teams traded sets with Gladwin winning the third 25-22 and Clare the fourth 25-20 setting up a winner take all fifth set. Feeding off the energy of a partisan crowd the Clare girls took a 15-6 win in the game and won the match 3-2.
“We are disappointed we didn’t win a district title, Clare outworked us,” said Wetmore. “It was evident from the first few points that Clare was on a mission.” Wetmore went on to say, “We couldn’t find holes in their defense, when we seemingly had a good kill a Clare player would dive from nowhere to save them. The Clare girls played out of their minds defensively.”
Statistical leaders for Gladwin included: Brooke Chenette 34 digs, 34 assists, Taylor Vasher 18 kills, 30 digs, Renae Parrett 46 digs, Chloe Kokotovich 15 kills and Grace Beardsley 9 kills, 22 digs.
The Flying G’s got to the district final by beating Chippewa Hills 3-0 on Wednesday night. Vasher and Alexis Wheeler each had six kills. Parrett and Vasher both had 12 digs and Brooke Chenette added 22 assists.
While he is disappointed with the loss Wetmore doesn’t want it to obscure the team’s accomplishments. They finished second in the Jack Pine Conference, their best finish since 2008 and this season marked the fourth straight time they appeared in the district finals having won the previous three.
Five seniors played their last game Thursday night. Chenette, Beardsley, Wheeler, Sydney Conley and Katie Breault will be tough to replace. This team will always have a soft spot in Wetmore’s heart. They are the first group that has gone all the way through the program with him as head coach. “Their hard work and dedication are second to none, they help motivate me to work harder every day,” said Wetmore. “I am going to miss these athletes a lot.”