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DISTRICT VOLLEYBALL: Allen Park starts slow; finishes strong in District Championship win over Edsel Ford (PHOTO)

Abby Dawson and the the Allen Park Jaguars had Dearborn's number last week as they beat Dearborn High in the district semifinals and then knocked off Dearborn Edsel Ford to win the championship Friday. Photo by Larry Caruso

It took one set longer than the Jaguars wanted, but Allen Park came out on top after winning three straight sets to defeat the Dearborn Edsel Ford Thunderbirds (15-25, 25-15, 25-9, and 25-15).

Edsel Ford came out strong while Allen Park came out nervous. The lack of experience got to the Thunderbirds, while the nerves went away in the second set for the Jags, and they never looked back.

“They played hard, they played together, they got a little frustrated, it got a little quiet towards the end,” said Edsel Ford head Coach Donna Schleif. “We’ve had our ups and our downs, we’ve beat some teams, and we haven’t really played that well.”

The Thunderbirds looked completely different than how they played this past week and came out strong against a nervous Jaguar team. The Thunderbirds went on three, 3-point runs, and finished the set on a 4-point run.

“They were afraid,” said Jaguars head Coach Chris Bozman. “They didn’t want to be the one to make a mistake that caused an issue.”

The nerves went quickly away, and the comfort of playing together, like they have all season, set in for Allen Park. The Jaguars jumped out to an early lead, and went on 5-point run, mid-set, and finished the Thunderbirds off on a 3-point run. Edsel Ford tried to chip away at the Jaguar lead, but it wasn’t doing any good as they made some crucial mistakes that led to their downfall.

In the third set, it was all Jaguars. Their nerves that they had in the first set were completely gone. The Jaguars went on a big 9-point run early in the third set to go up 11-1 over Edsel Ford. The Thunderbirds tried their hardest to get back into it, but two more, 3-point runs late put the all-important set 3 away.

In the fourth set, Edsel Ford stormed back and played their best volleyball of districts. It was back and forth until mid-set, when the Thunderbirds tied the game at 11 after being down by four points. A double-hit mistake by the Thunderbirds set up a 5-point run for the Jaguars and it was all but over after that.

A big 5-point run, and another 3-point run late in the set sealed the set, the match, and the district championship for the Jaguars.

“They were afraid. They didn’t want to be the one to make a mistake that caused an issue,” said Bozman.

Leading the way for the young Thunderbird team, sophomore Cassie O’Brien and junior Avery Sterling had five kills each, while sophomore Samantha Henwood had three aces and two kills.

For the victorious Jaguars, Alyssa LaFace was the top player of the match. In all four sets, she had 20 kills and an ace. LaFace was all over the floor for the Jaguars, leading the team, and providing a spark in the three sets Allen Park did win. It was only fitting for the Jaguars that LaFace got the last two points to win the district championship, as she finished the Thunderbirds off with an ace and a kill to send her team to regionals.

Up next for Allen Park is Westland John Glenn on Tuesday, November 12 at 5:00 at Allen Park High School. Bozman said he hasn’t seen John Glenn this year so he isn’t sure what to expect. The only thing he knows is that his team is playing well, and there isn’t much to change at this point in the year. “At this time of the year you don’t really change too much. We’re just going to keep rolling.”

Last Updated: 11/12/2013 2:17:06 PM EST

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