Gull Lake, the No. 1-ranked team in Class A, appeared poised for a return trip to the state quarterfinals in volleyball, but were turned away in a five set thriller.
Grand Rapids Christian (40-10) rallied from a 2-1 game deficit to defeat the Blue Devils and claim the regional championship, 25-22, 27-29, 26-24, 19-25, 10-15. The Eagles advance to face Grand Haven in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at Dewitt High School.
“It was a tough match,” said Blue Devils head coach Karyn Furlong. “Grand Rapids Christian played hard and they fought and fought and fought. It was their night.”
Leading two games to one, the Blue Devils (57-7) lost momentum when the Eagles took a 15-8 lead in the fourth, the contest’s largest margin. Though Gull Lake fought back to within two points, it wasn’t able to make up the difference.
“It was back and forth constantly,” Furlong said. “It was a great match. We had a great season. I told the girls not to hang their heads too much about this, just to be proud of what we accomplished.”
With two of the five games going into extra points, the match proved to be the dogfight that coach Furlong was expecting. It just didn’t end the way that she hoped it would.
“They’re a great team, they have great ball control, they dig, dig, dig,” Furlong said. “We had our opportunities, we just didn’t take them. We didn’t capitalize on them.”
Beyond an earlier than expected exit from the tournament, the match also proved to be the final time that the all-state senior duo of Katie Schau and Leah Perri, both Miss Volleyball Award finalists, would suit up in the Blue and White.
“It was disappointing,” Perri said. “It’s really hard; I thought we gave a lot on the court. I felt like we didn’t pass as well as we could have, we didn’t play as fast as we could have, but we played hard and it just didn’t go our way.”
Perri finished with 20 kills, 30 digs and five blocks for the Blue Devils while Schau added 47 assists and six blocks. Fellow senior Kendy Sosnowski tallied 25 assists and freshman Kelly Wisser picked up 14 kills.
“Their goal was a state championship and when you don’t reach your goal it’s disappointing,” Furlong said about her seniors.
With the win Grand Rapids Christian advances to the state quarterfinals for the first time in the school’s history.
“We knew Gull Lake was going to be a tough opponent, we just stayed consistent and steady” said second year Eagles head coach Tiffannie Gates. “Our theme for tonight was relentless. I think they really came through with it, we stayed relentless and came out ahead.”
The Eagles were led by senior Kelly Bos who finished with 23 kills. She was joined in the stat book by senior Taylor Gates who led the game with 50 assists, Taylor Noordewier who picked up 32 digs and Grace Frazee who finished with five blocks.