Prep volleyball: No. 1 Lakewood wins regional

Prep volleyball: No. 1 Lakewood wins regional

News

Prep volleyball: No. 1 Lakewood wins regional

By

MIDDLEVILLE

High school volleyball teams score points now and then on blocked spikes that hit the floor on the opponent’s side of the net.

But seven — or nearly half — of Lakewood’s 15 points in the fifth and deciding set of its regional final came on block kills.

The Class B No. 1-ranked Vikings defeated No. 3 Ada Forest Hills Eastern 25-27, 25-12, 23-25, 25-21, 15-7 to earn a regional title on Thursday at Thornapple-Kellogg High School.

“We scouted them well, and pretty well knew where they were going,” Lakewood coach Kellie Rowland said. “We adjusted to make sure they didn’t tip on us, and they saw us adjust so they didn’t try.

“So they had to swing away, and we wanted them swinging away at us because we were bigger than they were. It was key that we didn’t chase, stayed in position and blocked the ball.”

Senior Taylor Shook had four block kills in the fourth set, two more in the final set, and finished with eight.

“I think that’s the reason we won,” Shook said. “My goal every time is to block them. It’s a team sport, but knowing I had a part means a lot.”

Senior Emily Kutch finished with 24 kills, including two key ones at the end of the fourth set and five in the second.

“We had to hit the angles, and I kept going line all day,” Kutch said. “We knew we couldn’t mentally and physically give up. Everybody did their jobs. We worked so hard for this.”

Rowland thought it was to the Vikings’ benefit that the match went to five games.

“Eastern is tough and fast, but we’re in shape and we’re stronger,” she said. “Emily Kutch is a strong girl. She swung 51 times tonight and hit a .400 percentage kill efficiency.

“The difference in the fifth game was they couldn’t ignore Taylor, Charlie and Vanessa because they can hit, too,” Rowland added, referring to Shook, freshman Charlie Smith and sophomore Vanessa Reynhout. “And Brooke (Wieland) has the ability to find holes. So there’s no let-up.”

Wieland, a senior setter who led Lakewood with 40 assists, dumped the ball to open spots on Forest Hills Eastern’s side of the net for a couple of key kills.

The Vikings had to rally from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to advance to a 7 p.m. quarterfinal on Tuesday at Allegan against Berrien Springs.

“That would have been easy to lose focus, but we’ve played tough teams all year where you can’t let up,” Rowland said. “The girls know every single point is crucial, and there’s no give.”

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports