Varsity volleyball perseveres through confrences to take title

Varsity volleyball perseveres through confrences to take title

It wouldn’t come down to three, nor would it come down to four, but set five would finally give the varsity volleyball team an OK White semifinal game berth. Still, there was one game separating the Rangers from getting through to the conference finals. All FHC would have to do was knock off Byron Center once again.

This is exactly what the Rangers would come in and do, as they would defeat Byron Center in the semi-finals to advance to a championship game against Forest Hills Northern. Thanks to an astonishing performance by senior Brooklyn Conner, who finished with 17 kills and 3 digs, and another killer performance by senior Sophie Shields, who had 5 kills, 16 digs, and 21 receptions. The Rangers dropped set one in the match by a score of 26-24, but FHC would prevail and take the following three sets 25-16, 25-9, and 25-21.

That would lead them up to yet another rematch of FHC and FHN. Fans have seen these two teams battle all season before, with the Rangers coming out victorious in all three matches. The game would be an instant classic from the start, as the Rangers would take set one and drop set two and three. This has been somewhat of an unfamiliar spot this year for the Rangers as they have not trailed in many games unless they have to lead to defeat. Yet, the energy that FHC brought the court the next two sets would be crucial in its chances of pulling off what would be a remarkable championship in five sets over FHN. After FHC won 25-15, FHN’s two-game run gave them wins of 25-18 and a long-lasting 34-32 victory in set three. FHC would then take the 4th 27-25 before heading into the last round of the game, where they would take away a 15-12 win.

“Dropping the first Byron Center and losing two sets in a row to Northern was an eye-opening experience to this team, but also was the push and drive this team needed in order preserve and overcome the deficit of losing the first set to Byron and taking Northern to five sets,” spoke head coach Natalie Roelfzema. “This team’s grit and tenacity allowed them to overcome any challenges that our opponents faced us with, and that allowed us to come out with a victory.”

In the conference finale, the trio of junior Sarah Dunn, along with Brooklyn and Sophie, led the way by combining for 44 kills, 3 aces, 36 digs, and 39 receptions. Sophomore Avery Weslow also had quite the game; she went for 9 kills, 1 ace, 13 digs, and 12 receptions. FHC picked up its fourth win against FHN on the year. What a massive accomplishment in such a tight rivalry series.

“Northern is one of our biggest rivals, and beating them the last four times we have matched up with them is huge. Beating Northern twice in two weeks has shown this team that they can do anything they put their mind to,” coach Roelfzema said.

The now 38-5-3 OK White Champions move on to the opening round of districts in the playoffs, where they will open up with both Ottawa Hills and East Grand Rapids.

“FHC volleyball hasn’t won districts since 2012, so it would mean that we are making history if we win the district,” senior Grace Hudkins said. “This is a team that I think could go very far in the state tournament, and winning districts is the first step in that direction.”