She remembered a coaches meeting during the summer with one of her assistants, Holly Hazekamp, where some early team goals were discussed.
“We started talking, and it was like, ‘We know we’re going to be here at the state finals,’” Bayle recalled. “You know, you’ve got to support your team. And if they believe and we believe, then we can be capable of doing anything.
“There were definitely some speed bumps along the way, but we always like to believe we can do this.”
Believing it could happen was just one part of the Fruitport’s story.
It was Bayle’s players that had to back up their coach’s confidence, and they did it to the fullest.
The Trojans swept Tecumseh, 25-13, 25-20, 25-19 in Saturday’s Class B finals at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek to become the first team since Marysville in 2004 to repeat as Class B champions.
It was Fruitport’s third championship in program history. The Trojans have reached the finals seven times in the past 12 years, cementing Fruitport as one of the premier programs in Class B.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” said Fruitport setter Lauren Hazekamp, who had 33 assists to cap a brilliant four-year varsity career. “It’s special because you realize there’s not one game or season left. We’re going out on top.”
Like Bayle said, Fruitport’s quest to the top was far from a cake walk. The Trojans had to fight through another challenging schedule full of tough quads and Saturday tournaments, as well as deal with a wealth of injuries to key players. Senior outside hitter Bre Geile was out three weeks with a knee injury; senior defensive specialist Amber Carmean dealt with a strained shoulder earlier in the year; and junior outside hitter Brandie Jones has gutted out both a fractured and sprained ankle.
But with its full lineup on the floor Saturday, Fruitport performed at another level than underdog Tecumseh, which was making its first finals apperance ever.
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