'Never say die' WMC volleyball wins SL Invitational

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:46 AM

Grant topped WMC in pool play in a two-game sweep, but in the finals, the Warriors stormed back after dropping the first set, 25-21, and won the next two, 25-20 and 15-12.

“I know it is an over-used cliché, but never say die best describes our performance today,” WMC coach Ed Bailey said, whose squad improves to 25-7 this season. “After losing to Grant in pool play and losing the first set of the finals, our girls came up with something extra so they could win. It is tough to play volleyball all day and stay mentally and physically tough, but our kids proved what they could do today.”

WMC finished 2-1 in pool play with victories over Zeeland East and Ravenna. In the quarterfinals, the Warriors took care of Reeths-Puffer in two games (25-15, 25-19), and then won a tough match against Zeeland West in the semifinals, 25-23, 25-23. The Dux had defeated the Warriors earlier in the season.

WMC senior standout Rachel Bruinsma had a banner day with 89 kills, 20 aces, and 16 digs — all team highs. Julie Merz added nine aces and led with 121 assists, while Maria Ma was big at the net with 40 kills and six blocks.

Spring Lake coach Sarah Bulthuis was happy with her team’s start but disappointed with its finish. The Lakers won their pool with wins over Muskegon Catholic Central, Reeths-Puffer and Zeeland East, but they couldn’t keep their run going on home court, as Zeeland West eliminated them in the quarterfinals.

“After having great ball control in pool play, things fell apart in the quarters,” Bulthuis said. “In pool play we were passing great, our setting, hitting and defensive play was consistent. We missed very few serves. Much of that changed in the match against Zeeland West. It was very unfortunate after playing so well in the morning.”

Like WMC's Bruinsma, Spring Lake sophomore outside hitter Kelsee Zuidema also led her team in several areas, as she paced the Lakers with 35 kills, 31 digs and six blocks. Senior setter Emily Blahnik served tough throughout the day with 30 points and 15 aces, as well as contributing 54 assists.

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