By Lenny Sementi
Karli Dean and Tuscola’s volleyball team turned in two of their best performances of the year last week at the IHSA Tuscola Regional. They opened the week behind a monstrous effort by Dean that included 17 kills that upended Georgetown-Ridgefarm in three sets in the semi-finals. They backed it up with a gritty outing against the third-ranked team in the state, but it was not enough as they fell to St. Thomas More in a two-set, championship game shootout 18-25, 23-25.
Natalie Bates covered the entire floor, and Dean was strong up front in the loss to the Sabers on Thursday, Oct. 25. The Warriors traded points in game one until an 8-1 St. Thomas More run at the midway point of the contest proved to be too much to overcome. Jessie Martin found Dean twice in the set and also found her sister Katie Dean and senior hitter Lexie Russo.
Coach Lydia Miller’s team fed off the roar of the home crowd in a must-win game by delivering short runs to build an 8-point lead 17-9. St. Thomas More fought back with a few runs of their own climbing to within three of the lead 22-19. Then tied it up three points later and took the lead for good as they leaned on a strong front row boasting a pair of big time college recruits. Despite the loss, the Warriors’ efforts were outstanding to the end taking the 33-win team to the brink of defeat.
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, Oct. 23, the Warriors rebounded from a first set loss 17-25 to down the Lady Buffaloes in three. The Deans and Marissa Russo altered the outcome up front in the final two games blocking a combined eight swings at the net by the Buffs. Bates passed to Martin who continuously fed a hot Karli Dean on offense in the second set to the tune of eight kills helping the Warriors to a dominating 15-point victory 25-10, forcing a third set. The junior hitter posted an impressive stat line accumulating 17 kills, three blocks, and three saves. Bates served out the second set and delivered a well-rounded effort that included a match high 17 saves, 11 service points, two assists, and an ace.