By Dave Hart
That’s because Whitehall won something that the Wildcats thought they should have won last fall.
Montague, which won last season’s regular season West Michigan Conference title, lost in the semifinals of the postseason conference tournament to Shelby. Then Whitehall beat Shelby in the finals to claim the tournament championship.
That was a sore spot for the Wildcats, and they took it out on rival Whitehall with a straight-set victory on Tuesday in a key conference matchup.
The set scores were 25-19, 25-23 and 25-17.
“This is a game we have looked at,” said Montague Coach Shawn Bectel, whose team is now 24-8-2 on the season and is off to a 4-0 start in conference play. “We wanted the conference (tournament) and I thought we gave it away last year, and we were ready for this match. Whitehall is a good opponent and we sat down and scouted their moves.
“They are a good team that has a huge history in this conference. Our girls showed a lot of passion tonight.”
The Wildcats managed to cruise to the victory despite being a little banged up, with star senior Emma Flagstead seeing limited action.
The Wildcats started the first set slow, falling behind by as many as six points.
They overcame a 13-9 deficit with an 8-1 service run by Anna Olson and took a 17-14 lead. Montague ended the first set with an 8-4 run.
Montague jumped out to a 15-11 advantage in the second set before the Vikings mounted a comeback with a 9-4 run to tie the score at 20-20.
But the Wildcats closed the set by scoring five of the last eight points, which included a set-clinching kill by Brooklyn Schneider.
Whitehall led 7-4 early in the third set, but Montague roared back with a 13-2 run to take control. Summer Garwood and Morgan Roesler sparked the uprising with multiple service points.
Montague’s Grace Meacham tapped the ball over the net for the match-clinching point.
The Wildcats were paced by Flagstead with 11 kills in limited play, while Allyssa Bobian added seven kills and seven digs. Roesler led defensively with 12 digs and Garwood chipped in with 32 assists.
“That’s as bad as we have served in years,” said Whitehall Coach Ted Edsall. “I give credit to them. They served tough and we could not get going.”
The Vikings, who are now 4-1 in the league and 14-10-1 overall, were led by Julie Brown with nine kills and 11 digs, while sophomore Allisyn Grams added eight kills and three blocks. Katelyn Goodrich chipped in with 27 assists and three aces.