The Western Michigan Christian volleyball team clinched the Lakes Eight Conference championship on Saturday with a 2-0 performance at the conference tournament at Manistee High School.
The Warriors opened with a win over Orchard View (25-22, 25-21, 27-25) and then clinched the league title with a win over runner-up Ludington (25-13, 22-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-12).
"For the last two seasons in the Lakes Eight Conference, we came up short in the conference tournament, costing us the conference title both years," said WMC head coach Trent Smillie. "Today, we showed true grit with an amazing comeback in the last two sets of the final. Meredith and I are truly blessed to have a team with so much heart."
Taylor Folkema recorded 18 kills to lead the Warrior attack, while Anna Sytsema added 15 kills and five blocks. Chloe Mitchell recorded a team-high nine aces and 82 assists, while Eden TenCate added 16 kills and a team-high six blocks.
Meghan Heiss added six aces and a team-high 32 digs, while Rebecca TerHaar added 25 digs.
WMC improves to 31-13-1 overall and will be in action Tuesday at Kenowa Hills.
WMC CROSS COUNTRY WINS AT CHIP HILLS
The Western Michigan Christian boys and girls cross country teams traveled to Chippewa Hills on Saturday for their final tune-up before next weekend's regionals. The Warriors came away a pair of small school division victories.
On the boys' side of the event, the Warriors scored 36 points to edge Evart (57) and Manton (65).
Jack Zuidema came in fourth place with a time of 17 minutes, 36 seconds, while teammate Eli Rotman (17:41) came in fifth. Ben Garretson (18:16) came in seventh; Pierce Newell (18:34) came in ninth and Tyler Gould (18:46) came in 11th.
"Meets with this format help us for the state finals, because if we make it there, we always see some teams we have not raced against all season," said WMC head coach Greg Gould. "So, racing some of these larger schools that we don't see very often helps us race against competition we don't know that well.
"The boys were strong today. We managed to get our top five runners into the top 50 finishers, regardless if scoring division, so those five were medalists today. Our sixth and seventh runners placed very well in our division, pushing our division competition backward in the scoring, setting up a 21-point win in the small schools division."
On the girls' side of the race, the Warriors scored 31 points to edge second-place Manton (52) and White Cloud (90) in the small-division scoring.
Freshman phenom Abby VanderKooi led all competitors with a time of 17:43, while Josie Aardema (20:48) came in third and Sarah VanderKooi (21:02) came in fourth. Ava Rotman (21:32) came in fifth, followed by Natalie Riksen (23:27) came in 18th place.
"We headed to the start knowing the boys had just had a pretty great race, and that the weather was not going to improve," said WMC head coach Kevin Aardema. "Wind and rain were going to be around for a bit yet.
"Just like in the boys' race, the different competition is good for us, as we will face teams we know very little about at the state finals in two weeks should we find ourselves there. The girls ran very well today on a course that had a few places starting to show the effects of the rain and the race already run on it. We put four in the top fifty for medalists and also scored a 21-point win in the small schools division."
The teams race again at the MHSAA Regional in Allendale on Saturday with a spot in the state finals on the line.
FRUITPORT SPIKERS KEEPS CONFERENCE HOPES ALIVE
The Fruitport volleyball team kept their O-K Black Conference hopes alive with back-to-back conference wins Saturday in a league double-dual tournament.
The Trojans defeated league-leader Jenison (22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-18) and added a sweep of Muskegon (25-11, 25-16, 25-11) to finish 2-0.
Jordyn Carlyle recorded a team-high 30 kills and 45 assists to lead the Trojans, while Kennadi Dykstra and Kylie Oberlin each added five aces. Trinity Busscher added 36 digs; Rachel Paulsen had 25 kills; Oberlin added 21 kills and Kailey Carmean had 39 assists.
The Trojans will host their final conference double-dual of the season Thursday at 5 p.m. with a chance for the conference title on the line.
SPRING LAKE GOLF FINISHES 12th
The Spring Lake girls golf team finished their season with a 12th-place finish at the Division 3 state finals at Forest Akers East on the campus of Michigan State University on Saturday.
The Lakers carded a 365 on Day 2, after a 391 on Day 1, to finish with a 756.
Flint Powers Catholic finished with a 659 (328, 331) to win the team state title, while Grand Rapids South Christian (691) to finish runner-up.
Danielle Staskowski of Notre Dame Prep defeated Jolie Brochu of Flint Powers Catholic in a playoff tiebreaker to claim top individual medalist honors.
Spring Lake senior Hannah Klein carded a 78 on Day 2 to finish with a 166 and finish eighth overall the event to clinch All-State honors.
Junior Phoebe Saunders (88, 89) finished with a 177, while Alana Sprague (109, 91) finished with a 200, Zoe Ruffing (106, 107) finished with a 213 and Kate Galloway (115, 108) finished with a 223.
LAKERS VICTORIOUS AT MEL HALL
The Spring Lake cross country teams hosted the Mel Hall Invitational on Saturday, taking home top honors in the boys and girls races.
The girls took first place with 31 points, ahead of Whitehall in second at 68 and Holland Black River in third at 107. Fruitport took sixth with 149 points.
Julia Bajt took top individual honors, clocking in at first overall with a time of 19 minutes, 35.2 seconds.
Anna Fedewa followed in third at 19:53.0, ahead of Elizabeth Penrice in seventh at 20:30.3, Maggie Cooper in ninth at 20:37.1 and Chloe Lohman in 11th at 20:48.4.
Eva Tilton took 15th in 21:12.4, while Sophia Tilton took 17th in 21:26.3 to round out the varsity seven.
Faith Clark led the Trojans with a fourth-place finish in 20:01.5, ahead of Abigail Sykes in 19th at 21:29.3, Kristen Lord in 51st at 23:33.1, Analiza Sanches in 54th at 23:45.0, and Madison Hawkins in 65th at 24:05.1.
On the boys' side, Spring Lake took top honors with 42 points, ahead of Fruitport in second at 80, while Kenowa Hills and Whitehall tied for fourth at 95.
Andrew Hylen led the way with a first-place individual finish at 16:04.9, while Ben Hylen took second at 16:05.3.
Callen Carrier followed in ninth at 16:50.4, ahead of Matthew Vanderwall in 13th at 17:06.9 and Jack Leech in 20th at 17:55.1. Tyler Munch finished 22nd at 17:59.0, while Thomas Callen rounded out the varsity seven in 28th at 18:18.5.
Brenden Deneen led the Trojans in sixth place at 16:31.9, ahead of Jon Wildey in 10th at 16:55.5, Jaxon Deneen in 18th at 17:42.1, Cameron Weaver in 25th at 18:12.4 and Peyton Sharlow in 26th at 18:12.9.
HAVEN POLO FALLS IN DISTRICT FINALS
The Grand Haven boys water polo team took on the district tournament over the weekend, falling in the championship game to top-ranked Hudsonville.
The Bucs' regular-season performance earned them a bye through the first round and an automatic berth to the regional tournament. They kicked off their quest for a title against rival West Ottawa on Saturday morning, taking a convincing 11-5 victory, despite a depleted lineup.
"It's a tough time of year," said Grand Haven head coach Bill Hamm. "The boys are tired after a long season and some really hard work. With that comes the annual loss of players due to illness. We went into the game without a starter and early sub and several of those that made the game probably should have been at home getting healthy. But, our predicament was no different than the other teams'."
The health issues made for a slow start for the Bucs, but first-quarter goals by Ethan Ball and Mark Wilgenburg gave Grand Haven a 2-1 lead at the first break.
In the second quarter, the Bucs landed two more goals and started to pile up Panther ejections to take a 4-2 lead at the half. After halftime, the Bucs locked in, shutting out West Ottawa in the third and netting four goals of their own.
The fourth quarter was an opportunity to work on plays, rest the starters and get valuable playing time for the bench with the final score coming in at 11-5.
Five players netted multiple goals in the game. Nick Wilson led with three assists and shared defensive honors with Wilgenburg, each grabbing four steals.
The win earned Grand Haven a date with No. 1-ranked Hudsonville in the championship game, where they fell 12-6.
The Bucs took an early 2-1 lead but missed a few opportunities allowing the Eagles to take a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Grand Haven's offense struggled the rest of the way, as they fell behind 7-3 by halftime and 9-5 through three quarters.
Wilgenburg and Wilson led the offense with two goals each, while Wilson took four steals. Keeper Mark Nordin made 12 saves in the loss.
"We had some very near misses in the first couple of possessions, we could have been up 3-0 early without a starter playing, so I feel good about that," Hamm said. "We will work on our execution this week and hopefully earn that sort of advantage next weekend. Hudsonville is experienced and patient and found good shooting opportunities.
"The game got a little sloppy after that with both teams earning at least 10 ejections for the duration. The foul trouble made us play conservatively early, and ultimately left us with 2 more starters on the bench as the game concluded with the Eagles in control."
The Eagles will host the regional tournament Oct. 27-28, where the Bucs will hope to finish in the top four to qualify for the state tournament Nov. 10-11.
BUCS VOLLEYBALL DROPS PAIR
The Grand Haven volleyball team took on a conference double Saturday, falling to Rockford 3-1 and Caledonia 3-2.
The Bucs were outmatched against the Rams, as Rockford took the first two sets handily, 25-13 and 25-15. They would swing back in Set 3, winning 25-21 to force a fourth game, where they fell in a closer affair, 25-20.
The second game against Caledonia was a roller-coaster affair, as the Bucs took Set 1 (25-19) but lost Sets 2 (25-12) and 3 (25-15) by large margins. Determined to win, Grand Haven dominated Set 4, winning 25-15 to force a final fifth set, where they would fall 15-13.
Ashley Slater led the offense over the two games with 21 kills, followed by Avolyn Lepo with 14, Avery Strohmeyer with 12, Mackenzie Gross with 12 and Sarah Knoll with 11.
Samantha Boeve led from the service line with six aces, while Ashlyn Hall converted three.
Lepo controlled the net with a devastating 14 blocks, while Boeve greased the offense with 41 assists, followed by Hall with 32. Finally, Baby Hang led the team with 32 digs.
The losses drop Grand Haven's record to 29-18-2 for the year. They will close their regular season with a final O-K Red Conference round robin on Wednesday.