Grosse Pointe North, Grosse Pointe South and University Liggett players and coaches, as well as game offi
cials, participated in the second annual Block Out Cancer volleyball tri-match at Liggett. photo by Renato Jamett.
September 26, 2013University Liggett hosted the second annual Block Out Cancer volleyball tri-match with city rivals Grosse Pointe North and Grosse Pointe South last week.
Both stands were full as Grosse Pointers came to Liggett to support the volleyball teams and donate $5 for cancer research. The matches were played in honor of all of the men, women, boys and girls who died from cancer and those who have beat it.
"This is the second year the teams have joined forces to raise money for a good cause," Liggett Athletic Director Michelle Hicks said. "This year, the American Cancer Society Relay For Life was chosen as the organization to benefit from gate and concession sales. A donation of $1,065 will be made on behalf of the teams. Each team chose a T-shirt color to wear which represented a specific cancer.
The Norsemen wore purple for pancreatic cancer, the Blue Devils chose lime green for lymphoma and the Knights were in pink for breast cancer.
"A special thanks to all of the parents and faculty who volunteered their time and energy to support this cause; without them, it wouldn't have been possible."
North came out 2-0 on the day, beating Liggett 25-8, 25-12, 25-13 and then city rival Grosse Pointe South 25-12, 25-12, 25-15.
"We are playing better as a team, but it took a few tournaments to get everyone on the same page," North head coach Kim Lockhart said. "We're a relatively young team and playing the four early tournaments gave us a chance to see where everyone fit into the system.
"We're on the same page and getting some nice wins helps us as we prepare for some tough teams in our division."
The Norsemen got off to a flying start against the Knights as their big hitters, juniors Christa Raicevich, Maddy Bessert and Olivia Ritchie, and senior Caitlin Gaitley, each recorded kills.
Raicevich's jump-serve produced three aces and all of a sudden it was 12-4 Norsemen.
Unforced errors were crucial to the Knights' defeat and the miscues continued into games two and three. They never found a groove, despite occasional solid plays from juniors Carina Ghafari, Olivia Wujek and Courtney deRuiter, and sophomore Emily Kanakry.
In game three, North junior Kelsey Parafin and senior Colleen Reveley found their serving groove and helped stretch leads to seven points, 10-3, and 13 points, 20-7.
In two of the three games, Ritchie served the final point to lift the Norsemen.
The big match-up was the third game this season between the Class A schools, North and South. South won the first match in pool play in a tournament a couple of weeks ago, but in bracket play North prevailed.
The third meeting was all North as Lockhart watched her girls play with precision. They never allowed the Blue Devils to get comfortable in any game.
In game one, it was Raicevich's jump-serving which pushed the Norsemen ahead, 11-5, and she finished off the Blue Devils with two aces to serve-out the victory, 25-12.
She continued her hot serving streak in game two and put 10 consecutive service points on the board as the Norsemen's 6-5 was all of a sudden 16-5.
Ritchie's ace helped put game two in the books and it was on to game three.
The Norsemen were led by Aluia in game three as she served nine straight points to help the team build a 16-9 advantage.
Head coach Kevin Nugent and his Blue Devils were behind the eight ball since one of the team's best players, junior Izzy Murphy, was injured and did not play.
"We played well, but it helped that Izzy didn't play for them," Lockhart said. "She does a lot on the court and her absence helped us be more effective without having to worry about her."
The Blue Devils had moments of success, led by seniors Grace Metry and Hannah Adams, but they weren't enough to off-set the constant pressure the Norsemen put on them.
Leading the way for the Norsemen was Raicevich, who had five aces, eight kills, three blocks and 14 digs.
Gaitley chipped in with four kills and eight digs, and Bessert had 12 kills. Reveley finished with 32 assists and five digs, while sophomore Erin Armbruster had six kills.
Aluia had 16 digs to lead the Norsemen's defensive efforts.
With North having won the unofficial Block Out Cancer title, South battled Liggett in the second-place match.
Liggett head coach Joe LaMagno was disappointed after the Knights lost 25-10, 25-8, 25-17 as the Blue Devils were on fire from start to finish.
"We didn't play in any area of the game and it showed with two lop-sided losses," LaMagno said. "We couldn't pass or serve and those are two areas we're going to practice a lot the next few weeks.
"We have to get better."
Game one was a serving clinic put on by South senior Sydney Srebernak and freshman Lexi Kohut. The two combined to earn 13 service points to go with four aces.
Kohut was an offensive force in game two, registering five kills and a block, and Adams had a big game with a couple of kills. Srebernak was the leading server, registering 10 straight points as the Blue Devils opened a 19-6 lead.
The Knights played better in game three as junior Kacie Wuthrich served well and they had kills from Wujek and Kanakry. Ghafari was all over the court, digging and diving to save potential kills. All three teams played league matches later in the week.
Raicevich had 16 kills and 10 digs in the Norsemen's 25-19, 27-25, 25-21 loss to No. 1-ranked Macomb Dakota.
They fell to 1-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division and 12-11-5 overall.
Reveley had 26 assists and nine digs, and Parafin had 11 digs in the division defeat.
South improved its record to 2-0 in the MAC White Division and 15-7-3 overall with a victory over host Chippewa Valley.
Liggett played better and beat visiting Southfield Christian 25-18, 25-23, 26-24.
"It was a total team effort and one we needed," LaMagno said. "This conference looks to be wide open, so we have a chance to win this thing if we play well and do the little things."
Liggett improved to 1-0 in the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference and 5-9-2 overall.