Photos courtesy of Becky Vaara
Ludington’s volleyball team swept its way through the first four matches of its 2023 state tournament run. In fact, only one opponent reached 16 or more points in any set and that was Reed City’s 23 in the district semifinal.
In Thursday night’s Division 2 regional final at Gaylord, Kingsford was a different kind of test.
Ludington was pushed to four tough sets, but the Orioles had enough determination and firepower to turn back the Flivvers and capture their program’s first regional title since 1997.
Kingsford took the first set (25-21) before Ludington rallied to take the next three (25-22, 25-23, 26-24).
Ludington (42-10-2) advances to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. state quarterfinal at Fremont, where the Orioles will take on Grand Rapids West Catholic (34-9-6), which swept Fremont in a regional final at Central Montcalm.
“We started out a little slow, unsure what to expect,” Ludington coach Liz Holden said. “After dropping a close first game, we showed up and adjusted.
“The girls do a great job of adjusting when they need to and adapting. Taking the second set gave them drive and they started strong in the third set, but ultimately Kingsford was playing some awesome defense they got back into the game. After taking the third game, the girls felt a little less pressure and just kept swinging.”
Maddy Vaara led Ludington with 26 kills, 14 digs, four assists, three blocks, and one ace. Ashley McPike delivered 19 kills, five digs, two blocks, two assists, and one ace for the Orioles. Jordyn Anderson totaled 47 assists, nine digs, six kills, and three blocks, while Karli Mesyar had 32 digs, three assists, and two aces.
Other contributors for Ludington: Mia Pung 19 digs and one ace; Jaelyn Laird eight kills, six blocks, and one dig; Mya Bryant seven digs; Mia Voss one dig and one kill; and Lilly Slater one dig.
“Our defense got a lot of good digs and Jordyn kept feeding the hitters and running things so we could get the kills we needed,” Holden said. “It was a tough game and they had to work really hard to get balls to go down. I was impressed with how much Kingsford got up, but we just kept hitting until something finally hit the floor.
“It’s been 25 years since Ludington volleyball made it to the (regional) finals and I am so excited these girls made it happen and I am lucky to be a part of such a huge milestone.”
Photos courtesy of Rowen Vaara
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