After an up-and-down regular season that saw them win 20 matches and lose 19, the Lakers put their season on the line in the opening round of the Class B district tournament on Tuesday and came away winners.
Spring Lake took three straight tough games from visiting Coopersville, winning 25-21, 27-25, 25-21. The victory propels the Lakers into Thursday’s district semifinals against Oakridge, which had a first-round bye.
“We were so pumped up and ready to play,” said Lakers’ libero Brooke TenBrink, who led her squad with 28 digs. “This is definitely one of our best games. We’ve had our struggles, but this is our peak. We’re excited, and we’re working well as a team.”
That strong sense of togetherness showed on the court as the Lakers came together when the going got tough. In all three games, there came critical moments when either team could have stepped up and taken control, and in all three games, it was Spring Lake that prevailed.
“We knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Lakers’ coach Sarah Bulthuis said. “I’m glad we were able to stay focused and were able to finish. The last few weeks, we’ve really matured in those areas.”
Spring Lake continues to receive tremendous play from sophomore Kelsee Zuidema, who is fearless at the net and has proven to be the Lakers’ most dangerous attacker all season.
Zuidema finished with 17 kills against Coopersville to go along with a pair of blocks.
“Kelsee continues to be the leader in our offense,” Bulthuis said. “She hits balls out of the front row and the back row.”
Another player who stepped up her game on Tuesday was Padley Gallagher. The senior served tough in critical situations, leading the team with 13 service points and three aces. She also chipped in with 13 digs.
“I’m really pleased with Padley’s play,” Bulthuis said. “She had to serve in some tough situations, and she had one of her better nights tonight.”
Courtney Kyser had a nice all-around showing with nine kills and seven points, while Emily Blahnik provided 38 assists. Lydia Suchecki had eight kills for the Lakers, and Rachel Pennington provided 11 digs.
Breanna Williams had two blocks for Spring Lake, which hosts Oakridge on Thursday at 7 p.m. Thursday’s other district semifinal pits state-ranked Whitehall against Orchard View at 5 p.m.
“We played Oakridge not too long ago, and we beat them in two (games),” Bulthuis said. “They play in a tough conference, and they’re going to be ready to play.”
So will the Lakers, TenBrink promised.
“We’re excited. We’re going to work hard at practice and get ready for it,” she said.