By Travis Smola
There was something magical in the air as the Vicksburg varsity volleyball team captured a district title in a hard-earned sweep over Plainwell on the Trojans’ home court.
“I think a coach knows her team well enough that when you’re sitting on the bench you can feel whatever it is that’s in the air, you can feel it,” Head Coach Katrina Miller said. “And I could feel that even though we were losing points and we were struggling a little bit, that we weren’t going to let it go.”
The Lady Bulldogs were down 3-0 to start the opening set before storming back and taking control of the match. Much of the momentum came from the serving of Remi O’Neill, who served up two aces in a row in her first rotation serving. From there, the Lady Bulldogs feasted on Plainwell mistakes and won handily 25-13.
The second set was a different story as the two teams traded blows back and forth in a nail biter. Late in the match it was tied 23-23, then 24-24 before the Lady Bulldogs pulled away for a 27-25 win.
“Honestly, I can’t point out one person that was outstanding because they all worked so well together and did what they needed to do,” Miller said.
The third set saw Vicksburg get down early. They started making uncharacteristic mistakes, like those the girls had forced on the Trojans in the first two sets. At one point they were down seven points and it looked like the meet would go to a fourth set. But then the Lady Bulldogs came charging back.
Finally, they tied it up 23-23. The next play was the wildest one of the match. Plainwell put the ball in the rafters, but still managed to get it back over to the Vicksburg side, much to the surprise of the Lady Bulldogs. After two hits went nowhere, Rylie Richter made a miraculous punching save from far out right in front of the bench. The ball barely cleared the net, but eventually led to match point. On the next serve, Plainwell hit the ball into its own net to give Vicksburg the 25-23 win.
The last few points of the match were punctuated with a series of wild and ridiculous saves that had fans on both sides of the gym on their feet in disbelief. The only one who wasn’t surprised by them was Miller.
“We kept saying before we came out to this game that we are prepared as we can be,” Miller said. “So, those saves, while they were amazing and exhilarating, I wasn’t surprised because I knew, like we were going to give everything we had.
A big factor was the serving of Chloe Hatridge, Hannah Vallier and Marley Ferguson, who forced Plainwell to scramble and commit errors through all three games.
“We have had a really good serving team all year, but you know, my big thing when I’m working with the girls is to just not be scared to miss,” Miller said. “We talked about it a lot yesterday at practice and they did. So that was awesome.”
Vicksburg lost to Edwardsburg in the first round of Regional play on November 12 at Otsego.