Varsity volleyball finishes dominant week with district championship


When the first week of November rolls around, it becomes playoff time for the volleyball squad.

After a very successful run through the OK White Conference Tournament, the crowned-champion FHC Rangers open up the Division One state volleyball tournament with some very familiar foes from across the west side of the mitten.

The Rangers opened up with Ottawa Hills and East Grand Rapids to start the long week. The girls would come out victorious in both home efforts, sweeping both teams in three sets. This would set up yet another home contest for FHC, completing a run of three consecutive home district matches.

“Playing at home is always a positive. You can stay in your normal routine, and having the amazing student section and energy truly helped us win,” said assistant coach Kevin Zaschak. “We were down 0-2, and the shift in momentum and energy from our bench with the crowd got our girls to another level.”

The district final marked the fifth time this year that FHC would have to square up with its notorious cross-town rival in Forest Hills Northern. Nervous fans sat in the crowd for FHC early, as the Huskies came out very strong in the late parts of sets one and two. With these late momentum boosts, the Huskies used this to their advantage to take the first two sets 25-20 and 25-23.

Strikingly, the Rangers would win not one, not two, but the last three sets to complete one of the highest-magnitude comebacks in school history. The Rangers clawed back trailing two sets to defeat another top 10 team in the state, one of the first times this has been done in the history of FHC’s volleyball program.

“To play your rival 5 times in a season is unheard of, and to beat them all 5-times is truly a testament to our girl’s resilience and belief in a team-first approach,” spoke coach Zaschak.  “This group has not wavered from our ‘we’ over ‘me’ goals. Beating FHN for both the conference and district at home will be a memory for our girls, coaches, and families forever. They have done it the right way on and off the court. [It is] such a special group of girls, coaches, and families.”

This incredible district finale was kept alive by of the core of Rangers who have been helping drive the team’s success all season long. Seniors Sophie Shields and Brooklyn Conner, junior Sarah Dunn, and sophomore Avery Weslow led the way for FHC as they combined for 50 kills, 5 aces, 8 solo blocks, 65 digs, 2 assists, and 65 receptions. Along with those four, junior Averie Zaschak and seniors Grace Hudkins and Sophia Galan continued to prove their impact on the court, accounting for the only other kill on the night and 35 digs, 24 assists, and 11 receptions.

The 41-5-3 Rangers now move on to a huge matchup with the 35-10-6 Grandville Bulldogs this Tuesday at Grand Haven High School. The Grandville game will open up regionals, as the winner will play the victor of Grand Haven versus Rockford for the Region 3 final.

Playing against better-blocking teams like Northern makes things harder for our smaller hitters,” Brooklyn said. “Having our offense taking big swings around their block gave us the advantage; we needed to push through for the win.”