The St. Clair County Community College volleyball team has quickly developed into a well-oiled machine.
But even the finest piece of machinery can spring a leak. The Skippers were at their best the first two games Tuesday against Schoolcraft College but then fell apart after their libero left the game with an injury.
The end result was a close call, but another SC4 victory, as the Skippers defeated the Schoolcraft College Ocelots, 25-17, 25-19, 15-25 and 25-23.
The Skippers won the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Eastern Conference match-up despite losing defensive specialist Hannah Gordon early in the third game.
“We have never played a game without Hannah before and it was a little tough to make the adjustment,” SC4 sophomore Sarah Phillips said. “When we realized we had to fight for what we wanted we came out and made the adjustment.”
SC4 got off to a torrid start in the first game, scoring the first five points of the contest. The Ocelots pulled within 5-3 and the Skippers countered with a run to take a 9-4 lead.
Skippers middle hitter Jordan Johnson then scored four consecutive points for the Skippers to help them take a 13-5 lead and SC4 never looked back while winning 25-17.
Schoolcraft College appeared to gain traction in the second game. The Ocelots hung with the Skippers and only trailed 12-10. But SC4 once again found another gear and blew past Schoolcraft College. They turned a 15-13 lead into a 19-15 advantage and went on to win 25-19.
The Skippers were clearly in control entering the third game. They took a 4-2 lead out of the gate. But the Ocelots continued to battle and out-scored SC4 7-2 to take a 9-5 lead, which forced the Skippers to call timeout.
The stoppage in play didn’t stop the Skippers slide. Out of the timeout the Ocelots out-scored the Skippers 6-0 to take a 15-5 lead and forced yet another SC4 timeout.
A serving effort from Schoolcraft finally broke the run at 15-6 and the Skippers finally began answering with a run of their own after falling behind 18-6.
But it wasn’t enough to climb all the way back into the game and they lost 25-15.
“St. Clair is a great team,” Schoolcraft College coach Shannon Pummill said. “We found our energy and started talking and putting pressure on them. That was the difference.”
The Ocelots momentum continued into the fourth game as they scored three of the first four points.
They continued to lead throughout the game before the Skippers stormed back with a furious charge. With the game on the line, the Skippers surged forward and finally took a 22-20 lead. But it was short lived as Schoolcraft College surged ahead to take a 23-22 lead.
That didn’t stop the Skippers from closing the gap and they closed the match with a block.
“It was embarrassing because we hadn’t played like that this year,” SC4 sophomore Kendall Stoll said. “The fourth game they came out really loud but I think once we calmed down and got used to their rotation we had to trust each other in the different positions to work and function as a team again.”
Briann Alspaugh paced the Skippers with 13 kills, Stoll added 11 kills and Johnson and Kaitlyn Gilchrist each had six apiece.
SC4 (5-1, 26-4) will return to action Saturday at the Owens Tournament.
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jhayes1136