By Dave Tomczak

WHITEHALL – What should have been a Western Michigan Conference girls volleyball showdown in Whitehall turned into a runaway on Tuesday.

The host Vikings played their best match of the young season and cruised past archrival Montague, 25-13, 25-11, 25-23.

“That’s as solid as we have played all year,” said Whitehall coach Ted Edsall. “Especially serving. This is the best we’ve served, and they just couldn’t get anything going.”

Montague was hoping to avenge a Class B district quarterfinal loss to Whitehall last year, but couldn’t get things going until it was too late. 

After dropping the first two sets, Montague finally righted the ship in the third, and after a kill from Madelyn Meacham, held a 23-21 lead. 

The Wildcats’ Taylor Netcott seemingly put her team up 24-21, but a shot originally ruled in was overturned and the lead was cut to 23-22.

Whitehall freshman Charlie Baker recorded her second ace of the game to pull the teams even at 23-23, and a block by Rileigh Thommen gave the Vikings a 24-23 lead.

Montague knocked the ensuing volley out of bounds, and the match was over.

“I really expected us to play a better game, but a veteran team like that isn’t going to beat itself,” said Montague coach Shawn Bectel. “We only have two seniors and one was missing, so maybe this was a result of our youth. We knew it was a big game and maybe we were a little nervous, but we have to get above that.”

In the opening two sets, Whitehall took advantage of Montague’s mistakes, building quick leads in both and cruising to a 2-0 set lead.

“We didn’t make mistakes, passed well and got our serves in,” Edsall said. “We’ve been working hard on lessening our errors, getting the ball over the net, and that’s what we did today. We kept that momentum in those first two games, but I knew in that third, Montague would play better. If we lose that third, who knows what happens.”

Abby Seeger led Whitehall with 12 kills and 12 digs, Jaden Mikkelson had 29 assists, McKenna Hepler finished with 13 digs and six aces, Gianna Megna added 21 digs and Rayne Thompson had eight kills.

The Vikings improved to 13-2-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play..

Montague’s Reilly Murphy had 13 kills and eight digs, Raegan Murphy finished with 25 assists, Allison Hall added four kills and Netcott had seven digs.