By Dave Hart
KENT CITY-The Montague volleyball team is eyeing its first regional title in 19 years.
Montague passed the test with no problems on Tuesday night beating the Bulldogs in three straight sets at Kent City High School.
The Wildcats advanced to the Class C regional finals where they will play Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian who beat Morley-Stanwood at Kent City on Thursday.
“Regional finals sounds great,” said Montague Coach Shawn Bectel whose team improved to 48-10-1 on the season. “We all talked about the prize (state title) since the beginning of the year.
“We are fired up, the school is fired up and we are getting a lot of support.”
The Wildcats needed a complete team effort as team leader Emma Flagstead played sparingly due to an illness.
Flagstead still managed to lead Montague with 18 kills. Robbie Berg stepped her game up with 16 kills and 21 digs, while Allyssa Bobian and Sierra Armstrong each played strong defensively with 29 and 23 digs, respectively.
“We needed to stay mentally strong,” Berg said. “We had to remind each other to stay strong because that is what got us here.
“We are getting a chance to go far (in the state tournament) and it’s amazing.”
The Wildcats jumped out to a 5-0 lead on five straight service points from Lexi Monette.
The Bulldogs managed to cut their deficit as low as three points at 5-2, but that was as close as they got as Montague took the first set 25-16.
Ravenna kept it close early in the second set as each team scored five of the first 10 points.
Montague went on an 11-1 run to take a 16-6 lead, due to a strong service runs by Summer Garwood and Berg.
The Bulldogs cut their deficit to four points at 22-18, but Montague held on for a 25-19 victory in the second set.
Ravenna had its best set during the third set, as both teams could not pull away early on.
The Wildcats broke a 12-12 tie going on an 8-3 run fueled by Flagstead with multiple kills in front of the net.
The Bulldogs responded with a 10-4 run to take a 25-24 lead, but Montague closed the set and match scoring the final three points on an out of bounce serve by Ravenna and two kills from Flagstead.
Ravenna was led by lone senior Sydney Hanson with eight kills and 20 digs. Amber Jacobs added seven kills, while Hayley Dekker had 16 digs.
“We didn’t start swinging soon enough,” said Ravenna Coach Kim Platt whose team ended its season after beating Western Michigan Christian in the district championship. “I am very proud of them, we over achieved and improved so much since the start of the season.”