The MHSAA D1 Region 3 Champion Rockford Rams volleyball team. ~ Contributed Photo
By Jeannie Gregory
GRAND HAVEN – Thursday, Nov. 8 found the Ram volleyball team earning an MHSAA D1 Regional Title by completely dominating the Grand Haven Bucs 3-0. The Rams were able to blank the Bucs with an impressive all-around showing on the court. It was almost anti-climactic in a way, after the team’s edge-of-your-seat nail-biting 3-2 win on Tuesday night over Hudsonville. But, that didn’t make the victory any less sweet, nor the accomplishment of a regional crown any less significant.
Tuesday night’s game against familiar OK Red foe Hudsonville showed what kind of team the Rams are with their backs up against the wall. Rockford had fallen in the first two sets 19-25 and 21-25, and were one set away from elimination in their playoff run. The Rockford team pounded back against the Eagles and showed incredible heart, claiming both the third and fourth sets by identical 26-24 scores, to force a fifth and deciding set. The Rams continued their onslaught of offense – and defense – and were able to claim the final stanza 15-11 to earn their way to the MHSAA Region 3 Finals.
Thursday night found the Rams rolling over the Bucs in the championship round, claiming the first two sets 25-23 and 25-22. Rockford didn’t relax in the third and steamrolled the Bucs by a 25-10 score, earning the victory and the MHSAA Regional Title. The wins moves Rockford’s overall record to 45-11-1.
“Winning a regional championship in our region is not an easy task,” shared head coach Kelly Delacher. “There are some great teams in the Grand Rapids and Lakeshore, so I am proud of the fight in the girls this week. The showed incredible grit, in being down two match points against Hudsonville and then climbing all the way back to win three straight sets. And, then they did a great job of executing our game plan against Grand Haven.”
Rockford stat leaders for the two regional matches were: Lindsay Taylor, with 52 kills, 7 aces, and 17 digs; Emmy Webb, who tallied 29 kills, 7 blocks, 1 ace, and 15 digs; setter Emilee Karelse set the pace for the Rams, recording 81 assists, 3 aces, 5 blocks, and 14 digs; and on defense Madelyn Long registered 27 digs and also tallied 3 aces.
Taylor, who has been on fire for the Rams during the playoffs, set another record for kills in a match, slamming down 33 against the Eagles to break her own school record.
“They played with a lot of heart this week and very deserving of a Regional Championship,” continued Delacher. “Emilee Karelse did a great job of running our offense and Lindsay Taylor and Emmy Webb played some of their best volleyball of the year.”
The Rams, who are one of the remaining eight teams in the tournament, will now prepare to play Richland Gull Lake in the MHSAA D1 State Quarterfinals. The match will take place at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Caledonia High School.