By Noah Genson
MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP — What a season it has been for the North Muskegon volleyball team.
The Norse have racked up more 30 victories, won last weekend’s West Michigan Conference tournament, and in the process earned a tie for the overall conference title with Whitehall.
Just for good measure, the Norse added an impressive non-league victory over Reeths-Puffer on Tuesday, in a final warmup before the state tournament begins next week with districts.
The set scores were 25-22, 25-12 and 15-14.
Coach Heather Claussen says she hopes for more of the same in the postseason.
“Winning that tournament (last weekend) was huge,” said Claussen, whose team is now 36-15-1. “We hadn’t beat Whitehall either time this year, so beating them there was huge. I hope that win was the start of a much bigger run for us.”
A big part of North Muskegon’s success this season can be traced to senior leadership, according to the coach.
“Even with only four seniors, you can always hear one of them,” Claussen said. “Whether it be on the court helping some of the younger players during a play, or on the bench in between plays, it’s something that helps me as a coach for sure.”
Meanwhile, some younger stars have emerged and combined with the seniors to push the Norse to the top of the league standings.
“Syann (Farifield) has been with us two years now as a sophomore, and she’s been very consistent for us all year,” the coach said. “From the beginning of the year to now, Emma (Houseman) has improved to exactly where we needed her to, and she’s played a strong role for us as a setter.”
Against Reeths-Puffer on Tuesday, North Muskegon demonstrated the ability to beat teams from much larger schools.
The first set was a back-and-forth affair, with the Norse squeezing it out at the end with good services runs from Houseman and Mackenzie Firs.
The second set started out close, but after tying it up 8-8, the Norse finished with a 17-4 run to seal up an easy victory.
In the third, Fairfiled and Firs combined for seven kills as the Norse sewed up the match.
Fairfield led the Norse with 10 kills on the day while Kasey Firestone added nine. Defensively, Kendal Hoppa and Fris had eight and seven digs, respectably, while Fairfield chalked up three blocks.
Brianna Stawaski paced the Rockets with six kills.
Reeths-Puffer fell to 12-26 in a season that’s been a learning experience for first-year coach Alex Rykse and the players.
“I’ve had a great time teaching all of the girls,” Rykse said. “I’ll say that getting the game knowledge up has been difficult. But when you’re trying to rebuild a program, that’s something you’ll have to work on.”