Menominee’s Paige Barrette goes up for a spike during the Maroons’ Class B district title match with Houghton Friday night. Brooke Janquart is in the foreground. <br>EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
Menominee’s Paige Barrette goes up for a spike during the Maroons’ Class B district title match with Houghton Friday night. Brooke Janquart is in the foreground.
EagleHerald/Tom Kaeser
MENOMINEE - Two long bus trips, the jump from Class C to Class B and the loud student sections of rival fans weren't going to stop Houghton's volleyball road warriors from their goal.

The Gremlins earned a happy bus trip to Gaylord with a 25-18, 25-11, 13-25, 25-19 win over Menominee to capture the first Class B district title in the school's history Friday night.

"What a disappointing end," Maroon coach Sara Betzinger said. "The girls fought hard and rallied to win the third game. I am really proud of them and their hard work."

The Maroons threatened to push the match to a fifth game when they jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the fourth game.

Led by the booming spikes of middle hitter Sydney Dillinger, the slicing cross-court hits from outside hitter Elisa Jurmu and an ace from Kero, the Gremlins staged a 20-10 flurry to claim a 22-17 lead on Jurmu ace and a Dillinger spike kill.

"I'm really proud of the way they came back in the fourth set," Houghton coach John Christianson said. "We were on our heels but we pulled ourselves off the ropes and got it done."

Christianson noted that a pair of huge block kills by Dillinger in the fourth game turned the tide toward the Gremlins.

"Everybody picked it up, especially the passing and the communication," said Dillinger. "We were focused on getting it. We wanted to do it for the seniors."

Menominee held a 15-13 lead in the opening game when Christianson called a timeout. The Gremlins responded to the mid-game adjustments with a 12-3 closing run to seal the first win.

"Menominee and us were in the same situation. We hadn't seen each other," Christianson explained. "I told them to move their hands and feet and get to the ball."

Dillinger gave the Gremlins the lead (16-15) in the first game with a tip kill and Anikka Wheeler rifled a hit down the sidecourt to push the margin to 19-15. A tip kill and spike from Jada Riutta and a tip kill from Dillinger brought the Gremlins to game point and Kero's floater over the net sealed the deal.

Houghton rode its first-game momentum to a 12-2 lead in the second game. An Amanda Pedersen spike and block by Maddy Anderla cut the lead to 13-7, but aces from Kenna Ferry and Riutta chilled the Maroon comeback. Jurmu and Emma Huhta smashed points across from the edge to give the Gremlins a 2-0 lead.

Brooke Janquart jump-started the Maroons in the third game with a pair of aces as Menominee bolted out to a 10-4 lead.

Aces by Janquart and Krah pumped the lead to 22-11 and a sideout gave the Maroons the third-game win.

"Menominee played incredible in the third set," said Christianson. "Their serving took us out of our game. They really rocked us."

The Maroons seemed on their way to squaring the match when they stormed out to a 7-1 lead in the fourth game.

Kero helped light a fire under the Gremlins with a hard-smash from the outside and an ace.

An Anderla ace gave Menominee a 13-9 lead before Houghton came charging back to claim the district trophy.

The Gremlins made road trips to Oshkosh and Suttons Bay this season and Christianson feels the West Pac Conference competition prepared his team for Class B play.

"The girls really showed a lot of heart tonight," said Christianson. "Moving up to Class B, we knew we had to be road warriors. We knew we would have to travel a lot. Our regular season really prepared us for this."

Janquart had six aces and Krah had four aces and nine digs.

Allia Stewart collected 10 digs and added a kill and an ace and Anderla had two aces, nine digs, two kills and a block. Paige Barrette had an ace, two digs and three kills, Simmons had five blocks, a kill and a dig, and Tristin Tiesling had a dig.

The meet marked the final match for senior Iris Parrish, Stewart, Anderla, Krah and Pedersen.

"I'm sorry to see the season end," said Betzinger. "They are a fantastic group of athletes and people."