By Dave Hart
Local Sports Journal

WHITEHALL – The challengers keep trying to end Whitehall’s domination of the West Michigan Conference.

And the Vikings keep turning them away.

That familiar script played itself out again Tuesday, when Whitehall and Shelby met in a battle for first place in the league volleyball race.

Whitehall's Andie Bolles makes a set over Shelby's No. 14 Megan Bell and No. 10 Chloe Sillman. Photo/Jason Goorman

Whitehall’s Andie Bolles makes a set over Shelby’s No. 14 Megan Bell and No. 10 Chloe Sillman. Photo/Jason Goorman

The Vikings rallied to capture the match 16-25, 25-12, 25-22 and 25-17 to improve their record to 4-0 in conference play. Shelby dropped to 3-1.

It was the 44th straight conference victory for the Vikings, who are seeking their sixth consecutive West Michigan Conference title.

“We showed some of the best defense that we have had in Whitehall in over the last two years,” said Whitehall Coach Ted Edsall, who said his team’s 65 digs were the key to the victory.

Lauren Lopez led the Vikings with 11 digs while Alyssa Myers had 10.

The Tigers (14-10-2 overall) gave the Vikings a bit of a scare, winning the first game of the match.

Junior Haley Felt’s seven consecutive service points gave Shelby a 16-10 lead and led to the victory.

“We wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth a little bit and get on top of the match,” said Shelby coach Tom Weirich. “It’s hard to control emotions sometimes and we just used up too much adrenaline.”

Shelby’s lack of energy was obvious in the second game as the Vikings jumped out to a 6-1 lead with a run of five consecutive service points from Rachel Brown.

Whitehall's No. 3 Julie Brown makes the dig against Shelby. Photo/Jason Goorman

Whitehall’s No. 3 Julie Brown makes the dig against Shelby. Photo/Jason Goorman

Myers and Andie Bolles followed with service runs of five and three points, respectively, to help secure the second game for Whitehall.

The key to the match occurred in the third game. The Tigers scored four points in a row to cut a five point deficit to a single point. Whitehall’s Robin Gould ended that streak with a powerful spike, keeping momentum on the side of the Vikings.

“It is hard to get the momentum back, especially when you’re on the road,” Weirich said. “We are narrowing the gap (between Shelby and Whitehall). I want another crack at them.”

The Vikings kept rolling in the fourth game to secure the match. Whitehall is now 14-7 overall on the season.

The win improves the Vikings’ overall record to 14-7 on the season.

Myers and Brown totaled 9 kills apiece for Whitehall while Bolles contributed 16 assists.

“It was a great match and hats off to Shelby who played a great game,” Edsall said.