By Mark Blentlinger
The varsity Eagle volleyball team has been on a roll this season, taking down opponent after opponent. The Eagles are showing exactly why they are the number one ranked team in the state in class C. In September, they defeated Gobles, Thornapple Kellogg, Hackett Catholic Prep, Portage Northern, Bedford, Forrest Hills Northern, Notre Dame Prep, Constantine, East Grand Rapids, Lake Orion, Dewitt and Portage Central.
On September 7, the Eagles volleyball team went 6-0 at Battle Creek Lakeview, where they earned their third straight tournament victory.
The following weekend they were challenged by division 1 and 2 teams at the Portage Central Invite, winning their pool before losing in the finals in three sets to division 2’s 2018 state champion team from Grand Rapids Christian.
“We’ve been playing really well the past few weeks and at some tough tournaments. The girls remain focused on a little improvement every day and keeping a high level of enthusiasm in the gym. They do a great job of pushing one another and staying focused on ‘us’ and what makes us better,” Coach Onken said.
The Eagles have four players well past the 100-dig mark so far for the season. Andelyn Simkins leads the pack with 193 digs. Kelby Goldschmeding, Allie Goldschmeding, and Kayla Onken add to the aggressive Eagle defense. “Our defense has been impressive. Kelby has settled into the libero role even more this season and has a great playing relationship with her neighbors on the court. She and Andelyn always share a few words after a play and as a coach, that constant communication between players during the match is very calming.”
Along with their defense, Schoolcraft’s middles, Maggie Morris and Anna Schuppel, have also come alive the past few weeks becoming more and more of an aggressive threat at the net. “Maggie and Anna have made a huge impact this year both offensively and defensively. They both seem to be finding their rhythm, swinging at balls they were tipping earlier in the season. Having that constant presence in the middle is a game changer for us,” Onken explained.
“Our right-side defense has really stepped up, especially in tournament play. Allie and Kayla have taken a lot of pride in the timing of their block and spacing on defense. They get a little greedier with the ground they can cover each week and that allows their teammates around them to commit to their responsibility.” Coach Onken added about her junior right-side attacker, Allie Goldschmeding, and setter, Kayla Onken.
Senior Andelyn Simkins was honored at the Eagles last home game when she surpassed the 2,000-kill mark for the Eagles. The accomplishment puts her name in the school’s record books as the all-time career kill leader. She currently is at 2,121 kills, with a lot of time left in her senior season. “What an accomplishment!” Onken said. “Andelyn had no idea, she doesn’t keep track of that and we don’t talk stats, so it was exciting to get to surprise her before our game last week with a gift and the announcement. Andelyn has been a tremendous player and teammate for us the fast few years,” Onken added. ‘Every accolade she receives is well earned, she’s the hardest working player I’ve coached and loves to share her knowledge and help her teammates. Truly a special player!”
The rest of the Eagle schedule consists of Delton Kellogg, Coloma, Galesburg Augusta, East Grand Rapids, Martin, Lawton, Fennville, Kalamazoo Christian, Lakewood, and Mattawan.