JV volleyball finishes off big year with 8-1 record


Mac Boike, Sports Reporter

This past sports year was one for the memory books. Starting at the beginning of summer when it was first announced students could practice their sports again, emotions were high. Then a roadblock came upon the path when there was hesitation with MHSAA letting the girls compete. This dropped athletes’ morales down to the lowest of the lows, not knowing if they could have a season. Fortunately, athletes were granted their time to play. The year would be shorter, but a season is a season. The JV volleyball team would make the most of the opportunity to play.

The season would start with a road contest at rival Forest Hills Eastern. The goal for the girls was to set the pace and get the chemistry going early in the game so that it would carry on throughout the year. Sophomores Averie Zashcak and Kate Hotaling would start their dominant year early. Kate was set up by Averie, which led to a point in the first set in which the girls won 25-13. In the second set, freshman Brooke Bowers would make one of the highlight plays of the season which led to a huge point for the Rangers.

“Brooke had a great season,” Averie said. “She really brought a lot to game one and set the tone for how she was going to play from there on out.”

The girls finished the second set by a score of 25-12, winning their first game of the year.

The second and third games of the season were a matchup with in-conference foes Lowell and Greenville. To begin the week, Greenville traveled to FHC’s home court for a smackdown which began early with big plays from sophomores Emma Costello, Addy Scholtens, and Katelynn Heilman. Emma went on a killer serve streak which would foreshadow the remainder of the year. As for every game, Emma continued to have these dominant serve streaks that put the Rangers in very good positions to win games.

The Yellow Jackets would eventually fall to the Rangers in two sets, which meant the Rangers refocused on the trip to Lowell for a big rivalry game. Freshmen Mila Kavara and Maya Holster turned the pace up for the Rangers’ offense in this contest, resulting in a Rangers victory in the first set by a score of 25-10 and the second by 25-11.

The next week, the Rangers matched up against Grand Rapids Christian; a team who had just recently moved into the very stacked OK White Conference. If the Rangers went on to win this game, girls would control their own destiny in the title race.

Both teams had this in mind, and each team was ready for the other’s move. Early in the first set, Averie and Kate played exceptionally, making dominant play after dominant play to shift the tide towards the Rangers early. However, the Rangers eventually fell in the first set by a score of 25-22. The second half saw sophomore Ally Werkema control the frontcourt and make key plays at the net, getting big points for the girls. This set would be very close until the end, but GRC took it once again with a score of 25-23. This would be the first loss of the year, pushing the Rangers one game away from the conference title. A heartbreaker for the team midseason could have changed the emotions, but the girls remained positive.

“We were upset, but we were happy with how we played,” sophomore Brooke Kushak said. “They had just barely outplayed us.”

That loss would not change the pace though for the Rangers. The girls kept a high intensity and made sure they would win out. The first game after their loss, the Rangers would have to face Byron Center at home. The first set was won swiftly by the girls with the final score of the set being 25-16. A slow start in the second led to one of Emma Costello’s dominant serving runs which helped push the Rangers out to a 25-18 victory. The next week, the girls would face another cross-town rival, the East Grand Rapids Pioneers. Our rival would not even put a dent on us with the girls dominating the entire game. The Rangers made the Pioneers know who was boss early with key plays from Maya and Kate. The two would provide enough for the Rangers to win the first set by a score of 25-22 and wiping off what was left of the Pioneers in the second by a score of 25-7.

“It was a goal this year to beat both Northern and Eastern, it’s always great to beat your rivals,” Kate said.

All the girls would have to do to help make Kate’s goal come true was finish off the Forest Hills Nothern Huskies. The Huskies would be ready early for the girls’ attack but things would quickly change. The backcourt trio of Kate, Averie, and Emma would command the Rangers to an early lead in the first which was won by the Rangers 25-8. A breakout set for Ally then presented itself, with a long serve streak during the middle of the first set. The second set had another highlight play by Freshman Brooke Bowers. Brooke would make a key kill in a set that went towards the Rangers by a score of 25-17.

Another match-up with Byron Center would be a tough game late in a final push for the OK White Conference as the girls re-entered first place. If the girls win this game, they would be one win away from clinching the championship. Doing this on the road would be very, very tough. Byron Center was also trying to make a final push to take first place but the Rangers would look to cut that short. The Rangers would take the first set by a score of 25-20, but then fall in a crucial second set 25-20. A third and final set would decide the fate of the season for the girls. Kate Hotaling had a monster serve streak which helped push the Rangers into a 15-10 victory over the Bulldogs.

The last game of the season would be a road match at Wayland Union. Kate Hotaling and Averie Zaschak would help put away the conference title and finish a great run during the season by beating Wayland soundly. The final score of the first was 25-14 and the final score of the second was 25-8 leaning towards the Rangers capping the season off with an 8-1 record.

Overall, the JV volleyball team had a very dominant season with high intensity even since the start of summer when there was uncertainty of even having a season. To finish the season off with a championship is really something special, and should be a confidence booster for all of these girls for the rest of their careers.