Ram senior Emmy Webb goes up for a kill. Webb tallied 21 kills and a .514 hitting percentage, along with 8 digs, 5 blocks and 2 aces in the Rams' semi-final game against Northville. ~ Photo by "Papa" Razzi Sports Photography
By Jeannie Gregory
BATTLE CREEK - The Rockford varsity volleyball team came out strong in the first set in the semi-finals of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) D1 Girls Volleyball State Championship against the Northville Mustangs. The Rams lit up Kellogg Arena, and the scoreboard, Friday, Nov. 16, completely dominating Northville in the first set by a 25-13 score. Northville looked like they were going to make a match of it, coming back claiming the second set, but Rockford answered with two more set wins to claim the match 3-1. The victory earned Rockford the right to play in the state finals, Saturday, Nov. 17.
The Rams claimed the match by scores of 25-13, 19-25, 25-23, 25-21. Northville looked overwhelmed in the first set, with the Rams dominating them in every aspect of the game. Northville was able to rally in the second set, seeming to figure out how to defend the potent Ram offense at the net.
The beginning of the third set looked bleak for the Rams, with Northville running away with a 5-0 lead, but Rockford did what they’ve done all season - they dug down deep and started whittling away at the Mustang’s lead. It didn’t come all at once, still looking at the wrong end of a 10-5 score, but they had put up some points, and started to find their rhythm again. It was when the score was 13-9 when Rockford turned the set around off three miscues by Northville, and kills by Emmy Webb, and Alyssa Judge to knot it at 13. Another kill by Judge gave the Rams the 14-13 edge. Northville was able to tie it at 14’s and 15’s, but then the Rams claimed the lead and never gave it up. Rockford saw a kill each from Emilee Karelse, Megan Witte, and Emmy Webb, and two by Lindsay Taylor to help the Ram’s cause. Judge had two kills – including one for the final point to give the Rams the important 2-1 edge in the match.
Rockford seemed to struggle again in the fourth, with a number of attack errors giving Northville a 5-1 edge, but again, the Rams started whittling away, finally tying it at 13-13. It was a see-saw battle with the game knotted at 15, and 16 before the Rams broke the tie by a kill by Webb. A Northville error and another kill by Webb moved the score to 19-16, Rams. Judge and Taylor added two more kills to move the score to 22-18. A couple more Northville errors, and a kill by Taylor gave the Rams the final set, and the match victory.
Coach Kelly Delacher’s Rams impressed all with a well-executed game plan. Webb had a remarkable all-around game, leading the team with 21 kills and a .514 hitting percentage, along with 8 digs, 5 blocks and 2 aces. Taylor also had a big game, tallying 20 kills, 14 digs, 1 block, and 1 ace. Judge, who seemed to make points at key moments of the match, recorded 9 kills and 8 digs, and Witte tallied six kills, 4 blocks, and 1 dig. Claire Phillips registered 1 kill and 3 blocks. Libero Madelyn Long had 21 digs and 3 aces. Setter Emilee Karelse tallied 52 assists, 3 kills, 7 digs and 1 block.
The Rams (47-11-1) will now take on Lake Orion (67-6) in the MHSAA D1 Girls Volleyball Finals, Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.