St. Philip put a far different team on the court at the Battle Creek YMCA on Saturday than the one that captured the school’s seventh straight Class D state title in 2012.
And while the Tigers looked like a different team, the end result of the 19th annual Carrie Adams Memorial Volleyball Classic remained the same for the fifth straight year — with St. Philip hoisting the Gold Division trophy.
The tournament host Tigers went 7-0 in the 21-team tournament, ending the day with a 25-21, 25-20 victory over Haslett in the final.
“This means a lot for these girls and for us as coaches,” said St. Philip coach Vicky Groat. “We have something to build on. They really surprised us today. They played well and kept getting better and better.”
After topping Buchanan in the quarterfinal (25-13, 25-12), St. Philip had to battle a cross-town rival to reach the championship match.
Harper Creek forced a third set in the Gold semifinal after the Beavers won a thrilling back-and-fourth Game 1 by a score of 25-23. But the Tigers responded with 25-8 and 15-9 victories.
“Harper came out ready to play. Harper is a good young team, and that’s the scary thing about Harper. They are young and very talented,” Groat said. “I was very proud of the way that, after our first game, the girls didn’t get rattled. It’s not an experienced team. A lot of these kids were on the team (last year), but not on the court. For them to stay calm in that Game 2, I was very happy and impressed with that. That shows the four seniors are leaders, and the younger girls buy into that.”
St. Philip’s Sierra Hubbard Neil was awarded tournament MVP honors following the victory over Haslett. The Western Michigan University-bound senior finished with 66 kills, 37 digs and nine aces on the day. Also for the Tigers, Abby McKinzie had 18 kills, 10 aces and 22 digs; Emily Schaub had 143 assists, 13 aces and 20 digs; Emily Freybler had 21 kills and 23 digs; Megan Parker had 17 digs and seven kills; and Stephanie Gusching had 31 kills and 11 aces.
Harper Creek advanced to the Gold semifinals with a 25-13, 25-12 victory over Goodrich. The Beavers finished the tournament with a 3-1-2 record.
“We haven’t been in the Gold Division in a long time,” said Harper Creek coach Terra King. “I told the girls on the sidelines to look over at the dark courts and said, ‘We’re usually watching the big girls play, now we’re here playing with the big girls,’ so that was a big deal for us.
“We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores in key roles on the court. The few experienced players we have really took a leadership role, and the freshmen and sophomores really really impressed us all today.”
Harper Creek was led by Olivia Leson with 45 kills and 15 digs. Also for the Beavers, Lauren Grimes had 33 kills, 25 digs and four aces; Charley Andrews had 17 kills and five blocks; Kendall Latshaw had 64 digs and eight aces; Edrie Ganey had 57 assists and 12 aces; and Katie Wade had 60 assists and six aces.
Coldwater also reached the Gold semifinals after battling Concord to a 25-23, 30-28 victory. But in the semis, the Cardinals were defeated by Haslett, 25-13, 25-11.
“We felt really good about what they did today,” said Coldwater coach Larry Knauss. “We have five returners, but not a lot of experience. We don’t have the one big person to go to, but we have a lot of people we can go to. We just got caught in some defensive positioning we need to work on, but overall for the first tournament it went OK.”
Coldwater went 2-1-3 on the day and was led by Kenzie Galloway with 40 kills and 11 blocks. Also for the Cardinals, Meghan Schorfhaar had 24 digs; Carlee Smoker had 40 assists; Ashley Chase had 34 assists; and Shelby Bowers had 23 kills and 16 blocks.
Athens advanced to the semifinal round of the Silver Division, where it lost to Quincy. The Indians went 3-3-2 on the day and were led by Teasha Swank with 27 kills, 13 blocks and 31 digs. Also for the Indians, Jenny Smittendorf had 63 assists and six aces, Audrey Oswalt had 24 kills and three blocks; Ashley Smittendorf had 48 digs and seven aces; Allison Fuller had 57 digs, 15 kills and six aces; Siana Stanton had 20 kills and seven blocks and Hailee Hurst had 13 kills.
Union City made it to the Silver quarterfinals where it was upended by Hillsdale Academy 25-16, 21-25 and 15-9. The Chargers were led by Rachel Wing with 19 kills, 14 blocks, seven aces and two digs. Also for Union City, Bailee White had 18 digs, five kills, 37 assists and three aces; Haley Harty had 26 digs, nine kills, three blocks and six aces; Haley McIntosh had 31 digs, 17 kills and one ace; Marissa Mead had 55 digs and two aces; and Riley Smith had 23 digs and one ace.