By Dave Hart

NORTON SHORES – Volleyball teams that finish strong are usually the teams that win.

But finishing has been a struggle for the Western Michigan Christian squad this season.LSJ Logo incert

“We have been working on closing out matches,” said WMC Coach Trent Smillie. “After scoring 20 points it has been a struggle closing sets against some of the teams we’ve played so far.”

The work paid off the Warriors Thursday night, when they closed all three sets with strong play and walked away with a 3-0 victory over North Muskegon in non-conference action.

North Muskegon's Makayla Keur prepares for a kill. Photo/Tirza Feirros-Snuffer.

North Muskegon’s Makayla Keur prepares for a kill. Photo/Tirza Feirros-Snuffer.

The Warriors won the three sets by scores of 25-20, 25-10 and 25-23 to improve to 10-11 on the season.

They closed out the first set with a 7-2 run to break an 18-18 tie, closed the second set with a 6-2 run and finished the third set on a 4-2 run to break a 21-21 tie.

“During the last timeout (in set three) with the score 21 all I told the girls I am not calling another substitution, you have to ride this one out,” Smillie said. “I was very proud of them for closing the match out.”

North Muskegon dropped to 10-12 overall. The Norse are also 0-3 in West Michigan Conference play.

“We are struggling a bit as a team,” said North Muskegon Coach Chelsea Cooke-Tripp. “We have gone through a couple of different rotations, but girls are starting to become more comfortable with each other.”

The Warriors trailed in the first set 13-10 before rallying to win.

They came out strong during the second set, scoring the first four points on serves from Gracie Snuffer, then plowed ahead to an 11-4 lead and never looked back.

Kaitlyn Kilgore goes for the WMC kill. Photo/Tirza Fierros-Snuffer

Kaitlyn Kilgore goes for the WMC kill. Photo/Tirza Fierros-Snuffer

The early stages of the third set were even with the teams exchanging the lead several times.

The Warriors finally went on a 7-0 run on Ashley Sandin service points to take a 19-11 advantage. Sandin finished the night with three aces and 19 digs.

The Norse made a final effort with two strong serving runs.

Maddison Rake scored on three straight serves to cut the deficit to 19-15, while Rylee Cooke scored on five straight serves to tie the set at 21-21.

That’s when Smillie called time out, then his Warriors went on a 4-2 run to seal the match.

Cassie Kingma and Jessica Eekhoff each had seven kills for Western Michigan Christian.