Host Adrian Madison simply didn’t have the firepower to match Class C’s top-ranked team Thursday in the regional volleyball finals, and Mendon cruised to a 3-0 victory to reach the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
The Hornets, which lost in the Class D state semifinals to Beal City in 2012, have hardly experienced a bump in the road throughout this year’s postseason run in a higher division. Through five matches so far, including the 25-17, 25-17, 25-18 win Thursday, Mendon has dropped just one set (against Bronson).
“The other team was good,” Mendon assistant coach Bill Trenary said. “They’re shorter, outgunned, but they had a lot of will and kept every ball in play as long as they could do it. They’re always going to get points because they keep the ball alive. They had a couple hitters that could put the ball away when they got control of it.”
As good as the Hornets (48-7-2) have been all season, Trenary agreed that his mother, head coach Kathy Trenary, has set things up for the squad to peak at the right time.
“I started managing her volleyball team when I was in third grade, and I don’t know exactly how she does it, but her teams tend to peak going into the state tournament. We’re playing well, especially our younger players. I think Jordan [VanOss] is hitting better than she has all year, and she was good to begin with. Megann Leighton, our freshman, is starting to figure out the speed of varsity volleyball.”
Those powerful additions make an already potent offense pretty tough to beat.
“We are very driven,” said Alexis Russell, who had five kills, three blocks and 14 digs. “For a lot of us we want to get back to where we were last year at Kellogg [Arena] and that’s where a lot of the drive comes from. We are definitely concentrating on each game as they come and don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. It looks like we will be playing Schoolcraft next and that’ll be an exciting game to both watch and play.”
Loryn Baughman had an ace, 40 assists and four blocks in the win. Brooke Howard finished with 14 kills, three blocks and 14 digs. VanOss added 12 kills and 13 digs, Leighton tallied 10 kills and Jackie Friel had an ace.
“We came into today’s game not knowing much about Adrian Madison except what we saw Tuesday night against Galesburg, so we had to find our game quickly which I think we did very well,” Cierra Furlong said. “By having a team who can communicate with each other to make corrections has to be one of our biggest advantages alongside with the knowledge of the game and how each of our teammates plays is very valuable.”
The program faces the No. 7-ranked Eagles (37-12-1), which beat Muskegon Western Michigan Christian 3-0, Tuesday in the semis. Bill Trenary said Mendon and Schoolcraft have formed a bond in recent years. With similar coaching styles, friendships that were already in place and time spent scrimmaging one another, there’s mutual respect and admiration.
“They’re really good,” he said. “They run a really fast offense and they’re a really dynamic team. It should be a lot of fun. It’s nice to kind of work together and be on good terms with a program and then you meet late in the season. It kind of reassures both programs that you’re doing the right thing, coaching the right way and going about the game the right way.”