2011 Finals: Instant Classics

December 16, 2011

BATTLE CREEK -- Alexis Huntey will now be in the conversation when sister Ashley reminisces about her MHSAA Class C Volleyball title in 2007.

The 6-2 senior outside hitter led Morley-Stanwood to the school's second championship Saturday, and the first since her older sister helped the Mohawks to their only other title four years ago against Ubly.

She’s one of the heroes of Saturday’s MHSAA Finals at Kellogg Arena. We’ve got highlights from all four games, and some of the stories behind them.

(Click of full stats from the Finals and Semifinals.)

Class C

When Morley-Stanwood won its 2007 title,  Alexis Huntey watched from the bench as a team manager.

Now, younger sis might even have the better story of the two. 

The Mohawks (58-4-2) claimed the 2011 championship by downing 2010 champion Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 3-2 in one of the most thrilling Finals in MHSAA history.

The see-saw affair saw 32 ties and 13 lead changes from beginning to its nail-biting end, and featured 124 kills. With Morley-Stanwood leading 2-1 in sets (25-22, 26-28, 25-22), the Mohawks were just two points away from victory in set No. 4, leading the Kestrels 23-22. However, Kestrels battled to a 26-24 win to force a decisive fifth set.

Monroe St. Mary (48-4) came out firing in the final set, bolting to an 8-4 lead before the Mohawks rattled off five consecutive points to surge ahead. Fitting to this matchup, the game was tied three more times before Morley-Stanwood went ahead for good on a kill by Kayla Rosman to make it 12-11.

Then, after a Huntey kill put the Mohawks on the brink, the celebration began when a Kestrel attempt sailed wide of the end line to give Morley a 15-13 win and the trophy.

Huntey's 30 kills rank tied for third on the MHSAA Finals list, and she might need ice for her shoulder after 84 attempts.

Monroe SMCC's 63 team kills rank fourth on the all-time MHSAA Finals ledger, while Morley-Stanwood's 61 are tied for sixth. The teams combined for 387 attack attempts and the setters combined for 121 assists.

The defenses played a key role in the roller-coaster affair, as the Kestrels turned in 93 digs, while the Mohawks had 84.

Class A

In the first-ever MHSAA Volleyball Finals appearance for both schools, Rockford rolled over Lake Orion in three sets, 25-21, 25-23, 25-10 to claim the school's first crown.

The Rams (60-8) used an efficient attack to dispose of the Dragons (54-13-3), hitting .289 while limiting Lake Orion to a .115 attack percentage.

Senior setter Halle Peterson had plenty of options offensively, spreading the opportunities around the Rams’ front line. Four players recorded double-digit kills for Rockford, paced by senior hitter Jessica Majerle's 14. Murphy Heyer added 11 kills and led the team with 15 digs, while Andrea Kacsits and Avery Punches chipped in with 10 kills apiece.

Lake Orion senior Shannon Murdock led the Dragons with 13 kills.

Class B

Like both Class A finalists, Tecumseh was in its first MHSAA Final on Saturday. But reigning champion Fruitport played on its strength and playoff experience to claim a second-straight title and the third in program history. 

The Trojans (50-8) defeated Tecumseh 25-13, 25-20, 25-19. The Indians finished 55-4-1.

Fruitport also won Class B in 2005 and has finished MHSAA runner-up four times. The Trojans surivived a five-game Semifinal against East Grand Rapids to earn Saturday's opportunity. 

Breanna Geile had 15 kills and Brandie Jones 14 for Fruitport, with setter Lauren Hazekamp totaling 33 assists. Kelsey Berrington had 32 kills for Tecumseh, and Carly Tillotson had 29 assists. 

Class D

The Tigers of Battle Creek St. Philip continued to make themselves at home in their backyard at Kellogg, winning the Class D title for a sixth straight year.

This year's victim was the same school against which St. Philip began its recent streak, Wyoming Tri-unity Christian. The Tigers pounded out a 3-0 win over the Defenders, 25-16, 25-13 and 25-11 in rolling to the school's 17th title overall.

For coach Vicky Groat, it meant moving one win closer to the school record for MHSAA crowns. She now has led seven Tigers teams to championships, two behind her mother, Sheila Guerra, for whom Vicky played as a student at St. Philip. The Tigers' only title not won with Groat or Guerra at the helm was a 1979 win under the tutelage of Becky Emrich.

On Saturday, it was an attack of underclassmen leading the way for St. Philip (59-4-2). Junior Amanda McKinzie registered 16 kills, and sophomore Sierra Hubbard-Neil added 12 to lead the attack. Hubbard-Neil converted 12 of 23 attempts with only one error, hitting .478.

Directing the Tigers attack was junior setter Andrea Lesiow, distributing 30 assists.

Tri-unity (39-14-2) had no answer for the Tigers, who also played tremendous defense with nine blocks and 42 digs. The Defenders were led by junior Alyssa Petrick's 17 kills.

(Above) Big hitter: Morley-Stanwood senior Alexis Huntey winds up for one of her 30 kills in the Class C Final.
(Below) No. 1: Rockford, in its first MHSAA Final, claimed its first championship in the Class A title game.