Stephenson volleyball coach Sara Johnson brings the Great Northern Conference volleyball trophy to her players following Thursday’s home win over Escanaba. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Stephenson volleyball coach Sara Johnson brings the Great Northern Conference volleyball trophy to her players following Thursday’s home win over Escanaba. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
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STEPHENSON - A Great Northern Conference volleyball championship may have seemed far-fetched in August, but Stephenson made it reality on Halloween.

The Eagles swept Escanaba 25-10, 25-15, 25-13 Thursday night to finish tied with Menominee atop the GNC.

"It's something I've never ever imagined," Eagles senior Lexi Johnson said. "We're so much smaller than everyone else we play. It was just like a dream come true for all of us to win this."

Coming off the Menominee County meet title, then a dual match victory at Menominee on Monday, coach Sara Johnson was concerned about a possible letdown against winless Esky, so she found words of wisdom for her team to follow: "If what you did yesterday still looks good to you, you haven't done much today."

Not to worry - the Eagles came out on fire, scoring the first 10 points of the first game.

"We came out and we knew we had to play strong right at the beginning if we were going to win this title," Lexi Johnson said. "It's not gonna be sad - it's gonna be exciting."

Escanaba's only lead of the night was 1-0 in the second game. But spike kills by Lindsey Borski and Lexi Johnson helped the Eagles pull away. Lexi also had a block kill and a service ace, and Alie Duprey hammered home the game winner.

"I would say tonight it was probably a combination of the seniors just challenging the whole team that we're going to play hard," coach Johnson said. "Every one of them was on. They kind of set the pace right at the beginning of the match."

Kelsey Johnson's ace got the Eagles off to a good start in the third game. Lexi Johnson crushed a spike for a 13-7 lead. She served an ace for a 23-11 lead.

It was the regular-season finale for seniors Lexi Johnson, Tiffany Wangerin, Brett DeMille, Alie DuPrey, Lexi Rasner and Lindsey Borski.

"I'm very proud of them," the Eagles coach said. "It's a great way to end their varsity career - at home."

It was the first GNC volleyball title in memory for the Eagles.

"I don't know that the girls realized that was possible at the beginning of the year," the Eagles coach said. "I thought it was possible."

Wangerin said the team gained confidence playing against bigger schools in tournaments.

"It's awesome," Wangerin said. "We really work hard as a team. Everyone's really close."

Lexi Johnson finished with 14 kills, four aces, two blocks, an assist and 14 digs. DuPrey blasted eight kills and had a block and a dig. Rasner provided 11 assists, four digs and an ace and Amelia Starzynski contributed an ace, 13 assists and five digs. Karlina Johnson had five digs, an assist and two kills. Kelsey Johnson had two aces and 11 digs and Wangerin chipped in with 14 digs and a kill. Borski had two assists, a dig, one block and a kill; Bret DeMille added six digs and a kill and Breanna Martin had two kills and a dig.

Stephenson will play North Dickinson at Mid Peninsula in a district tourney opener Monday night. If the Eagles win, they would earn a home match on Wednesday against Bark River-Harris.