Reed City’s volleyball season ends in regional title game

SERVE: Emma Lockhart gets ready to serve the ball for Reed City against Whitehall. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)
SERVE: Emma Lockhart gets ready to serve the ball for Reed City against Whitehall. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)

FREMONT– Whitehall blocked Reed City’s bid for a Class B regional volleyball title in more ways than one Thursday night.

The Vikings used a devastating net attack including a powerful blocking game, led by senior middle hitters Autumn Christenson and Jane Kuipers for a 25-16, 25-18, 25-10 victory over the Coyotes in Thursday’s regional final.

Whitehall, 45-11, advances to the quarterfinal round. The season ends for the Coyotes at 29-22.

“It was a tough Whitehall team,” said Reed City coach Don Patterson. “We played solid defensively. We didn’t serve as well as we have the last two or three games and we had to serve tough against them to take them out of their offense.”

Christenson, who signed to play at Michigan State, and Kuipers led a Whitehall attack that produced 12 blocks. They both had four each.

“We’re a big team and I really thought our middle, Jane Kuipers, had a great match,” said Whitehall coach Ted Edsall. “I thought we could force them into some errors with how big we are at the net.”

Jacolyn Mullins’ ace gave Reed City a 4-3 lead in the first game. But then Whitehall started dominating at the net and picked up some key blocks for a 12-8 lead. An Emma Lockhart ace cut the gap to 13-10. But Christenson had three straight blocks to give her team a 20-12 lead.

Mullins came up with a block for Reed City and it was 21-13. Whitehall built a 24-16 lead and a serving error by Reed City ended the game.

Whitehall’s blocking dominance continued in the second game although the Coyotes fired out to a 5-2 lead. Christenson had a block, followed by an ace, for a 7-6 lead. It was 8-6 before Lockhart’s kill cut the Whitehall lead to one. Rachel Brown’s block made it 11-9 Whitehall and the Vikings upped it to 17-13 on a kill by Christenson. Lockhart’s kill cut the Viking lead to 19-16. But Christenson’s block gave her team a 23-18 lead. Two straight blocks from Kuipers gave her team the winning two points.

The Vikings fired out to a 4-0 lead in the third game. Christenson served an ace for an 8-3 lead. Lockhart’s kill cut the Whitehall lead to 10-5. Christenson delivered a monster kill for a 14-6 lead.

Brown’s ace gave her team a commanding 18-7 lead, followed by a tip and kill from Christenson for a 20-7 lead. Jenna Pesch’s ace made it 23-9. She scored the 25th point on another ace.

“Usually, we get a little more out of our serve but they pass great,” Edsall said. “I thought their ball control was very good.”

“They served better than they have the last couple of games,” Patterson said. “When they run their offense, they’re pretty good.”

Heather Tacey had 16 assists and eight digs for the Coyotes, followed by Natalie Westhoff with two kills and a block, Mullins with six kills and 10 digs, Lockhart with 12 digs, six kills and an ace, Michaela Reed with three kills and Kalee Hensel with 10 digs.

“I expected exactly what we saw,” Patterson said. “Our blocks did a good job of following their big hitters, But their big hitters did what they needed to do. We dug a lot of their balls. We just didn’t put enough pressure on them on our serves like we did Tuesday night.”

The Coyotes were 4-1 during the postseason to take a district title and get into the regional final.

“I thought we got better all year as the year progressed,” Patterson said. “I’m really proud of the kids. They worked hard all year long. I told the girls ‘when I look out there I don’t see anybody that didn’t leave 100 percent of their effort on the court.’ That’s all we can ask for. To me, it’s a great season. Teams don’t get to the regional final all that often, it’s a pretty good year.”