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Fruitport volleyball returning to the big stage after quarterfinal sweep

Nate Thompson • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:13 AM

The No. 3-ranked Trojans (47-7) continued its dominating stretch of postseason play on Tuesday at Houghton Lake High School by sweeping Cadillac, 25-21, 25-19, 25-19. It was Fruitport’s fourth 3-0 result in the playoffs.

Fruitport will now return to the site where it was crowned state champions last November – at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek for the state semifinals. The Trojans will match up against East Grand Rapids, which swept top-ranked Plainwell on Tuesday. The match is scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

This will be Fruitport coach Nicole Bayle’s third trip to Battle Creek, an experience she said never gets old.

“It’s exciting for everyone in the program,” Bayle said. “I feel truly blessed to have such great kids to coach. It’s almost surreal to me that we’ve reached this point, but it’s always exciting to realize that we’re one of just four teams left in Class B. The opportunity to repeat as state champions would be awesome.”

Fruitport jumped out to a 7-1 lead in Game 1, and Bayle said her team never looked back, controlling the match throughout.

“(Cadillac) rallied a lot and kept the ball in play, which definitely kept them in the match,” she said. “But we executed our passes great, which is really a key to our success. Players like Amber (Carmean) and Lindsey (Armstrong) really did a great job again. When Lauren (Hazekamp) is getting good passes from those two, it’s pretty difficult for teams to know who to focus on. When Bre (Geile) or Brandie (Jones) just has a single blocker on them, that usually means good things for us.”

Bayle said Geile executed at the net throughout, and led the team with 15 kills.

“We were feeling pretty confident throughout,” Geile said. “(Our great passing) definitely makes us more dangerous offensively. When Lauren is able to get a good set, it just open things up for us on the outside.”

Carmean dug up 22 balls for the Trojans, while Geile and Armstrong added 11 apiece. Hazekamp didn’t shy away from contributing offensively, either, using her dangerous quick tipping skills to tally seven kills. Jones, a junior, added six kills from her outside hitter position, despite playing with a chipped bone in her ankle.

Middle hitter Rachael Folkmier had two blocks for the Trojans, while Armstrong led with two aces.

Fruitport has faced East Grand Rapids just one time this season, with the Trojans winning at a home quad on Oct. 26.

Geile feels the Trojans have an edge, since no player on East Grand Rapids’ roster has played on the big stage in Battle Creek.

“They’re an impressive team and I’m sure it will be a tough match,” she said. “But if we execute our game plan like we did tonight, we feel we’re up for the challenge.

“(That state finals experience) gives us an advantage. They don’t know what it’s like to play under those big lights.”

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