BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — Sloppy play doesn’t always lead to a win. Clarkston proved otherwise Thursday night.
The state-ranked Wolves moved their win streak to 30 days on Thursday night, overcoming a slow start to topple visiting North Farmington, 3-1, in OAA Red Division girls volleyball play.
Upset-minded North Farmington rallied for a 25-21 in Game 1, only to see the Class A fourth-ranked Wolves come back and win the final three games (25-21, 25-16 and 25-18) to prevail.
“We were really sloppy tonight,” admitted Clarkston coach Kelly Avenall, whose team blew a 10-6 lead in Game 1 with multiple unforced errors. “I told the girls that despite all the serving errors and hitting errors, you were still able to push through and beat a really good team. I know that makes the girls happy, but I also know that we have a lot to work on (for next week).”
Clarkston, which has won three tournaments and reached the semifinals at another, moved to 30-3-1 on the season and has not lost since Aug.27. The Wolves, the defending OAA-Red champions and state semifinalists last year, still found a way to prevail against the Raiders (2-1 league play) despite the continued absence of senior Kaley Konjarevich, a senior outside hitter who has been sidelined with an injury.
The Wolves found a tough match in North Farmington, thanks to the play of the Raiders’ senior outside hitter Nicci Joyce and 6-foot-3 middle hitter Kaitlyn Shep.
Joyce had 13 digs and 13 kills, Shepp slammed 19 kills and Hannah Long picked up 33 assists for North Farmington.
“They played great defense,” praised Avenall said of North Farmington. “Joyce was great for them defensively. She’s one of the best defenders that I’ve probably seen this year. Our hitters were having trouble getting the ball down on her the whole night. They came to play against us.”
Clarkston rotated three different players in Konjarevich’s regular spot, much like the rest of the season as Konjarevich has seen only spot duty all season. Senior Rachel Dickerson has thrived and had another monster night against the Raiders, slamming 27 kills in four games.
Brianna Frakes added 42 assists and Emily Popp scooped up 27 digs for the Wolves.
Clarkston slowly pulled away over the final three games, closing Game 1 with a 6-4 run, Game 3 with a9-2 spurt and Game 4 with a 7-4 run to gain the win. A service point from Popp ended the match.
“We held our own against one of the best teams in the state,” praised North Farmington coach Jessica Condeni. “I am not angry because we played really hard. They were just a little better than we were tonight.”
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