Fruitport volleyball team to face familiar playoff foe in Class B Elite Eight

Josh VanDyke • Nov 14, 2017 at 12:28 AM

The Fruitport volleyball squad enters tonight’s Class B quarterfinals with a surge of confidence after breezing through their two regional matches last week at Orchard View High School.

Now, the Trojans prepare to take on one of their historical playoff rivals in the Cadillac Vikings at Mason County Central High School at 7 p.m.

During Fruitport’s championship runs in 2010-11, it was the Vikings who stood in the way of their birth into the Class B Final Four. In both matches, Fruitport came away with straight-set sweeps of Cadillac, on their way to raising the Class B state championship trophy in Battle Creek.

Head coach Nicole Bayle hopes that is a positive omen for young squad heading into a pressure-packed situation.

“We have faced Cadillac a lot in the playoffs,” she said. “This will be the fourth time meeting in the playoffs, and every time it’s been late in the playoffs with a lot on the line. Michelle (Brines) does a great job with her program, and they are always ready to play. They are very competitive and scrappy, and they are younger this year, so they are similar to us in a lot of ways.”

Brines has guided the Vikings to 10 regional titles in the last 11 years and two state semifinal berths since 2013. Brines entered the 2017 season with an overall record of 709-204-37.

“It’s going to be a good match. They’ve beaten good teams, and we’ve beaten good teams, too,” Bayle added. “You don’t make it this deep into the playoffs by accident. You’ve got to be a good team in order to beat the quality teams you face in the regionals. They split with Grant this year, so that is something we can directly compare ourselves to.”

Senior outside hitter Gabrielle Kapuscinski (No. 13) is the team’s leader on the attack, recording 13 kills against Alma in the regional finals last week.

Sophomore middle hitter Kochanny Brooke (No. 9) and freshman setter Macy Brown (No. 6) both added five kills on 20 attempts each.

The Vikings aren’t a team determined to record a lot of blocks, as the squad only recorded one against Alma, but what the team lacks in front-net size, they more and than make up for in overall defensive play.

Senior libero Marykate Taylor (No. 17) had 15 digs against Alma, while Brown and sophomore Chloe Comstock (No. 8) each added nine, and Kapuscinski had eight.

“We know that the key for us is always going to be about playing good defense, communicating and serving tough,” Bayle said. “They have talented outside hitter that is going to be tough to slow down, but we think we match up pretty well with them in the middle.

“It’s always important for us to be balanced with our attack, and I think Kailey has done a great job of running that and spreading the ball around. Jordyn (Carlyle), Kylie (Oberlin) and Rachel (Paulsen) have all taken big strides lately and we’re hoping they will be big difference makers for us.”

If Fruitport advances to Thursday’s semifinals at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, they will face the winner of Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Corruna at 6:30 p.m.

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