By Dave Hart and Steve Gunn
SCOTTVILLE – If volleyball teams only played up to 10 points, Fruitport would have been eliminated from the state tournament by now.
Fruitport defeated Cadillac 3-1 in the Class B state quarterfinals at Mason County Central High School on Tuesday, despite trailing in all four sets.
The Trojans, who improved to 36-17-4 on the season, won the first two sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-22, fell in the third 25-19, then clinched the match with a 25-16 victory in the fourth.
Fruitport, a young team with only one senior on the roster, now advances to the Class B state semifinals against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
The winner will advance to Saturday’s state championship match.
It will be the Trojans’ first appearance in the state final four since 2011, when they won the Class B state title.
“We were down in every set, and for me it was excellent to see that they were capable of winning this match, even though today was not beautiful,” said Fruitport Coach Nicole Bayle. “We did a good job coming back and surging.
“It’s an honor to get back to the state semifinals. Early in the season I would have told you we had a lot of work to do to get there.”
The Trojans were led by Kylie Oberlin with 14 kills while Jordyn Carlyle added 12 and Rachel Paulsen had 10. Carlyle, Paulsen and Trinity Busscher each served three aces while setter Kailey Carmean had 48 assists.
Busscher led the Trojan defense with 31 digs while Paulsen notched 14.
The Trojans continued to amaze their classmates and fans with their strong tournament run, after finishing second in the O-K Black Conference in the regular season.
They were a good team that everyone expected to do pretty well in the tournament, but apparently the players expected even more of themselves.
“We put a lot of practice in,” Carlyle said after the match. “We treat every practice like a game. When we got to districts everybody started buckling down and everything just clicked.”
The Trojans fell behind early in the first and second sets by scores of 10-5 and 14-7, respectively. They overcame the opening-set deficit with 12-5 run, sparked by a long service run by Olivia Parling, to take a 17-15 lead. They scored eight of the final 15 points of the set, which ended with a pair of kills by Carlyle.
“Jordyn (Carlyle) did a great job giving us that big surge of adrenaline,” Bayle said about her junior middle hitter. “She really stood out during the match tonight.”
“I felt like I had my ‘A’ game and I just went with it,” Carlyle said about her strong performance.
The second set deficit was cured by an 18-8 Fruitport run, which was sparked by long service runs by Carmean and Carlyle.
The Vikings jumped out to another early lead in the third set and held on to win and remain alive in the match.
The fourth set remained tight until the Trojans broke a 9-9 deadlock with a 16-7 run that sewed up the match and a berth in the state final four. Oberlin and Busscher had key service runs in the last set.
“To be able to play in (the final four) again, I don’t have words for it,” Bayle said. “It’s awesome.”