Valiant effort by Ramblers comes up short

By: Thomas Franz | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 18, 2013

 Fraser senior Victoria Vellucci attempts to get a shot over L’Anse Creuse’s Gabby Winnega during the regional semifinal on Nov. 12.

Fraser senior Victoria Vellucci attempts to get a shot over L’Anse Creuse’s Gabby Winnega during the regional semifinal on Nov. 12.

Photo by Sean Work

STERLING HEIGHTS — L’Anse Creuse and Fraser high’s volleyball teams may have ended their regular seasons on opposite ends of the MAC Red standings, but that gap was nearly erased in a regional semifinal contest on Nov. 12.

Fraser went winless in regular season play but provided a great challenge to the division champion Lancers. L’Anse Creuse eventually prevailed in four games, 27-25, 18-25, 25-19, 25-20.

“You could tell the last time we played them in league time that they were playing a lot better. They were really scrappy and a lot more organized. I knew it was going to be like that, so it was always a wonder of what they were going to have,” L’Anse Creuse coach Derek Ledwidge said.

The Lancers had to come back from a 19-12 deficit in the first game to win 27-25.

“We always come back, and we always finish strong. Whenever we are in that situation when we do have to come back, our girls are not nervous about it because we’ve done it all season,” Ledwidge said.

Despite losing the lead in a difficult game one, Fraser knotted things up by controlling the second game 25-18.

“I’m proud of their fight. They could’ve laid down for them multiple times. L’Anse Creuse is a good team, and we knew that going in,” Fraser coach Kristi Skladanowski said. “They’ve gotten better and better every single match and every single game all season long. With them fighting back in game two says a lot about their growth this season and how they’ve come together as a team.”

L’Anse Creuse used its power from Leah Rose and Jaevyn Wortham to create some distance from Fraser in the last two games. Rose finished the night with 26 kills and 21 digs, while Wortham added 17 kills, 13 digs and four blocks. Sam Pickett added 50 assists and 30 digs.

“They’ve (complemented each other) well all season. Jaevyn (Wortham) was a monster in the center, and our two main outside hitters were struggling and so she picked up the slack, which was nice,” Ledwidge said.

Ledwidge said that his side didn’t change anything, from a strategic standpoint, after the second game, but it was simply better execution in the last two games that helped the Lancers prevail.

“It was mostly the mechanics and hitting that wasn’t working, so it wasn’t anything that was wrong with the schematics. I figured that we made it this far, so I was going to ride with what we’ve done all season,” Ledwidge said.

In her last game for Fraser, senior Rachel Parus made plays all over the floor while collecting 15 kills and 25 digs.

“It was nice to see her all over, and she executed some hits that I haven’t seen her hit at times in the season,” Skladanowski said. “Rachel (Parus) makes up most of our offense, and she’s been our go-to all season long, and I’m glad she finished on a night like this with her offense the way it ended up.”

Madison Speck added 26 assists and 17 digs for Fraser.  Victoria Vellucci contributed 11 kills and 19 digs, while McKensey Gariepy finished with 21 digs.

“They’re a hard-working bunch. The six seniors are going to be hard to replace just because of the heart and leadership and example they set forth all season long,” Skladanowski said. “We battled with a lot of injuries this season. This team is all heart, and they epitomize what a team should be with picking each other up and filling in roles when teammates were out. I’m proud of them for their district win, and I’m proud of them that they made it this far this season.”

L’Anse Creuse (30-15-2) went on to lose to Romeo, which beat top-ranked Macomb Dakota, in a regional final on Nov. 14. Fraser closed its season with a 14-21 record.