By: Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The No. 5 ranked Manchester Lady Dutch Volleyball team will travel to Ann Arbor Huron tomorrow for a division three state quarterfinal matchup against the top ranked Monroe St. Mary’s Catholic Central (SMCC) Kestrals.
Both teams won their regional titles last week in dominating fashion. SMCC defeated No. 10 ranked Charyl Stockwell Academy in straight sets, 25-15, 25-17, 25-20 and the Lady Dutch defeated Bath in straight sets, 25-13, 25-12, 25-10, to set up a rematch in the state quarterfinals.
Last year, SMCC defeated Manchester in four sets, 25-16, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22, in a closer matchup then the 3-1 set count implies.
This year, as Manchester rolled to back to back conference and district titles, head coach Trisca Beasley began to prepare her team in practice for harder hitting teams down the line like SMCC
“(In addition to) playing with no blockers so our defense could respond,” said Beasley on practice scenarios to prepare the team. “I’ve been trying to up the blockers (for us) because I want to take some of that speed off (of their hits). They have some dominating hitters that we haven’t seen in awhile. I want to be ale to get some touches on it. Our hitting is phenomenal, blocking is one of the main things I want to work on.”
“They’re really good in the front row, they have strong hitters,” said senior Jayden Humphrey when asked about what she remembered about SMCC and what the team had been preparing for. “I believe with the amount of blocking practice we’ve had we’ll be able to get a touch on it and make it easier on our back row. We’ve been practicing with no blockers to get ready for harder hits and learning to absorb the ball a little better. I feel that will help us out, I’m not going in overconfident but I believe in my team. I know we can play with them.”
Manchester has now won three district titles and a regional title under Beasley, who took over in 2015, and the season isn’t over just yet.
“I won’t lie, I was a little nervous being a freshman coming up,” said Humphrey on Beasley coming in at the same time as her. Humphrey is one of two seniors in the seven-member class who has been a four a year varsity player. “It was a big change because eighth grade (volleyball) is nothing compared to high school. She made the game a lot more fun and easy to understand.
“She makes us successful because we grow each year,” said Humphrey when asked about the what Beasley has brought to the program. “We’ve been able to have teams that have had (varsity) players all four years. My sophomore year we graduated seven, same with this year, but since we graduated seven we were able to work harder last year. She pushed us practicing, she said we don’t like to practice after we win. But when we practice, we practice hard. We take it like it’s a game”
The Lady Dutch have multiple weapons on this team, Humphrey leading them averaging 10 kills per game.
The winner of the 5:30 matchup tomorrow will face the winner of the 7 p.m. game played directly after, Bronson/Grand Rapids North Pointe on Nov. 15.
For photos and a recap of the regional title victory, visit here.