Three months after adopting the season-long motto “Let Us Cook”, Northville’s volleyball team prepared a gourmet meal during Thursday’s Division 1 District championship match against South Lyon East.
The Mustangs’ hitters were on target, their defensive specialists were sweeping the gym floor with diving digs and everyone else followed Head Coach Sarah Lindstrom’s winning recipe on the way to a 26-24, 25-16, 25-17 triumph over the Cougars.
Northville moves on to play the winner of Friday night’s Temperance Bedford-Woodhaven match in Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. regional semifinal match at Ypsilanti Lincoln High School.
The Mustangs did not lose a set in its three district matches, defeating Plymouth, Canton and SLE by identical 3-0 scores.
Thought up by the players, the “Let Us Cook” slogan refers to the hunger for a state title the Mustangs embraced after finishing runner-up in Division 1 in 2022 to Birmingham Marian.
Utensils to the stars
After every match this season, the offensive player of the game received a giant fork and the defensive player of the game a giant spoon.
Everyone deserved a utensil after Thursday’s triumph — the Mustangs’ third consecutive 3-0 sweep in the district tournament they hosted.
Among the standouts was senior libero/defensive specialist Ashlee Gnau, who thwarted a number of Cougar attacks with diving digs.
“This feels so good,” said Gnau, basking in the post-match euphoria. “We were pretty confident going into the match, but at the same time we knew South Lyon East was a great team. We knew it was going to be a close game, but we fought through every point.”
South Lyon East, which was ranked in the Division 1 Top 20 by MaxPreps.com heading into the match, gave the Mustangs all they could handle in the opening set when it built a 20-19 lead.
Twins were clutch
However, a couple of deep serves by the Cougars and some clutch late-set kills by Northville’s Mallory and Molly Reck; and a set-clinching block by Ashley Krahe sealed the deal.
“Coming back like we did in the first game was due to a lot of hard work and everyone did a job, whether they were on the court or on the bench,” Gnau said.
Northville never trialed in the second set after roaring to a 4-1 lead.
SLE pulled to within 9-7 at one point thanks largely to brilliant play by Katelyn Berry, but back-to-back service aces by Mallory Reck and a emphatic kill by Avry Nelson extended the hosts’ lead to 18-9.
No quit in Cougars
The Cougars never gave up in the third set despite facing a daunting 2-0 deficit.
Addison Williams’ kill knotted the set at 13-all before Northville went on a 7-0 run to help put the icing on the cake.
The entire Northville team got fired up when freshman Gabby Lavoie entered the game with her team ahead 21-14 and delivered two service points — the first an ace.
During a pre-season interview, Lindstrom predicted SLE would be an early-tournament test for her team.
She was right — at least for a set.
Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4657 or email@example.com.