Bret DeMille of Stephenson smashes a spike as Menominee’s Amanda Pedersen defends during their Great Northern Conference match Monday night in Menominee. EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
Bret DeMille of Stephenson smashes a spike as Menominee’s Amanda Pedersen defends during their Great Northern Conference match Monday night in Menominee. EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
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MENOMINEE - Stephenson claimed the Menominee County championship trophy at the Menominee gym Saturday and the Eagles returned to the Maroon gym Monday to get their fingertips on the Great Northern Conference trophy.

The Eagles swept the Maroons 25-16, 25-19, 25-21 to keep their shot at a share of the GNC alive.

Menominee already owns at least a piece of the title with a 7-3 record. With a win over Escanaba on their home floor Thursday, the Eagles (6-3) would be GNC co-champions.

Stephenson overcame a loud and rocking Parents' Night crowd with poise and perseverance.

"I knew it was going to be tough," coach Sara Johnson said. "I told them just play your game and don't get nervous and that's what they did. They kept fighting back."

The match was packed with hard-hitting, desperate dives for digs and constant swings of momentum.

Bret DeMille gave the Eagles a 6-3 lead in the opening game with a spike kill and a Paige Barrette spike and Brooke Janquart ace tied the game at 9 before Amelia Starzynski gave Menominee a 10-9 lead with a spike kill.

The Maroons built a 15-11 margin before Stephenson fired back with an 13-5 flurry. Lexi Johnson's push point brought the Eagles to game point and a sideout sealed the win.

Menominee jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the second game when coach Johnson called a time out.

The tactic worked as the Eagles roared back again to even the score and Lexi Johnson's ace gave Stephenson a 9-8 lead.

The Maroons reclaimed the lead (12-9) but a DeMille ace deadlocked the two teams again at 13.

Johnson's block kill and a Starzynski acce pushed the Eagles to a 21-17 lead. Another Johnson block took the Eagles to game point and Stephenson went up 2-0 with a sideout.

Menominee took the early momentum again in the third game, bolting out to a 7-2 lead. The Maroons maintained a slim lead until Karlina Johnson fired across a game-tying (13-13) spike kill.

Maddy Anderla got the lead back for the Maroons with perfectly-placed hit down the sidecourt, but a Kelsey Johnson ace helped spur the Eagles to a 20-19 lead.

Janquart answered with another ace to push the Maroons to a 21-20 lead, but Kelsey Johnson and Karlina Johnson sparked the Eagles to a 24-21 lead. Kelsey Johnson's diving save set up the match point.

Lexi Johnson was a major force at middle hitter with 16 kills, 20 digs, and an ace, while Tiffany Wangerin set up the win with her 22 of 22 serving and 10 digs. Alie Duprey had seven kills and three digs, Lexi Rasner collected 10 assists and three digs, Starzynski had 13 assists, 10 digs and an ace, Karlina Johnson contributed five kills and two digs, Kelsey Johnson led the Eagles in digs with 24 and she had a kill and an ace and Breanna Martin had two digs.

"We played better tonight," Menominee coach Sarah Betzinger said. "The movement improved and communication improved. The girls worked hard. Things are coming together for districts."

Allia Stewart had 11 points, including three aces, and added six digs and five kills to lead the Maroons. Janquart had four aces among her seven points and also collected four digs.

Anderla had seven kills and 11 digs, Amanda Simmons had four kills and two blocks, Pedersen finished with three kills and a pair of blocks, Barrette finished with three aces, six digs and five kills, Sam Krah had three points, including two aces, and nine digs and Iris Parrish had two points and five digs.

The Maroons open Class B district tournament play against Escanaba Nov. 6 at 6 p.m. in the Menominee gym.

The Eagles travel to Manistigue tonight and are at home against the Eskymos Thursday. Stephenson plays North Dickinson in the Class D district tournament at Mid Peninsula Nov. 4.