HUDSONVILLE — Western Michigan Christian battled early in their state quarterfinal match against number one Schoolcraft, but was unable to put together sustained runs in their 3-0 loss.
“Anytime your season ends, it’s obviously not a happy time,” WMC head coach Trent Smillie said. “They came in as the favorite, we were the underdog. We were hoping to be competitive and I think we were, at least in the first half of every set. They have a little more experience than we do and they have had a little more experience in the past two years making it to the regional finals. They had three years of redemption going into this match.”
The first set started as a back and forth affair when one team would successfully attack and score, the other would counter with a point of their own. WMC and Schoolcraft were tied four different times in the early going. Kyla Wiersema was had three kills in that span and sparked a four point run that had WMC leading 10-8 when the Eagles took a timeout.
It was all Schoolcraft for the rest of the set. Following the timeout, the teams continued their seesaw set until the score hit 14-15. Schoolcraft closed out the set with a 10-2 run to win 25-16.
“We had a game plan that we attempted to follow in the first set and a half. We didn’t follow that gameplan as well as I’d hoped. It may or may not have changed things in those two sets,” Smillie said. “They had good tip coverage and I think we tipped a little too much. When we swung a lot of good things usually happened. First thing a player will often do is be safe rather than try to take some chances and this was not a team to be safe with.”
The second set followed the theme of the first set and saw both teams tied at 13-13. Schoolcraft took the lead with a three point run and WMC took their first timeout. Wiersema came out of the timeout with a big kill and it seemed momentum was swinging back in favor of the Warriors, but the Eagles did not let up, winning set two 25-18.
In the third and final set, the Eagles came out with a sense of urgency looking to finish the match. They held a 7-2 lead before the Warriors scored four straight and brought the score to 7-6. The two teams stayed within one point until it was 9-8. Schoolcraft took control and cruised to a victory in the final set outscoring WMC 16-4 down the stretch. The Eagles won the final set 25-12.
WMC finished their season with a record of 39-11-3.
“Those kids over the past four or five years have put a lot of time and effort into being good volleyball players both in and out of our season. There have been kids at our school in the past who have put in extra time, but it’s never been 12 out of 15 kids,” Smillie said of his senior group of players.
“We’ve got some really good athletes that are coming back next year and we’ve got some that are in the middle schools right now. We are hoping those kids put in some time and effort and grow a little bit and we will be back. Hopefully every year for a while.”