By Dave Hart
Local Sports Journal
COOPERSVILLE- The Whitehall volleyball team faced a lot of challenges this season – injuries, sickness and a roster full of young players who had to gain experience.
A lot of teams would buckle at such adversity, but the Vikings kept pushing forward, winning a West Michigan Conference title (the team’s seventh straight) and a Class B district championship.
But their courageous run ended Thursday in a 3-1 loss to Forest Hills Eastern in the Class B regional finals at Coopersville High School.
Whitehall did not end its season without a fight.
The Vikings were down 2-0 in games, and trailed 21-19 in the third game, before rallying to win and stay alive. They had a 17-13 lead in the fourth game before letting the match slip away.
“With our effort and how we played hard tonight, I could not be more proud of our team,” said Whitehall coach Ted Edsall, whose team closed out the season with a 35-16-3 record. “Our league was really tough this year and I think we exceeded our expectations.”
The Vikings believe their future is bright with everyone except three seniors returning next year.
“We should be good,” said Edsall, whose team has now advanced to the regional level four times in the past five years. “We’re losing three middles and that’s about it.”
Forest Hills Eastern led most of the way during the first and second games with a strong performance from Lauren Trisch at the net and with her serving. The Hawks won both games 25-20 to take a commanding lead.
Trisch led the Hawks with 29 kills, four aces, and 25 digs on the night.
The Vikings took the third game 25-23, closing out with a 6-2 run to stay alive in the match. Rachel Brown, who led Whitehall with 14 kills in the match, paced the third-game comeback.
Whitehall’s rally fell short in the fourth game as the Hawks closed out with a 12-4 run to claim a 25-21 victory and the regional title.
“We were there in every game but we just could not get over the hump,” Edsall said.
Julie Brown had a good night for Whitehall with two aces and 20 digs, while Lauren Lopez had 15 digs and Melissa Shoup added eight kills.
Forest Hills Eastern, now 38-10, won its first regional title in school history.