Manchester Volleyball wins first regional title since 1993

By: Seth Kinker, 

The No. 5 ranked Manchester Lady Dutch Volleyball won their first regional title in 25 years on Nov. 8, defeating the Bath Fighting Bees in straight sets, 25-13, 25-12, 25-10.

Manchester defeated fellow Cascades conference member Vandercook Lake on Nov. 6 in four sets. That win was the first regional win under head coach Tricia Beasley since she took over in 2015.

“It felt amazing,” said senior Jayden Humphrey, one of two seniors that are four-year Varsity players, on the first regional win. “We finally got to see a team we knew we had good competition against but a team we could be confident against, winning against them before. Seeing them made us feel like it was our game. Honestly, it was just like a conference game.”

Manchester has won three district titles in that span, but the win on Nov. 8 was also the first regional title under Beasley. Manchester previously made it to the regional rounds in 2015 and 2017 under Beasley but were eliminated in the first game.

“They are a tipping team,” said Beasley on Bath. “Not a lot of strong hitters, they took advantage of getting our setter out, that was their strong suit.”

“I believe we saw them at the Airport tournament,” added Humphrey on Bath. “We thought that when we saw them at Airport they were playing good and had good competition. We were worried coming in seeing they had a big middle. We practiced blocking in the middle and having our blockers ready and working with our back row.”

In the first set, Manchester jumped out to an 8-3 lead forcing a Bath timeout on a kill from senior Jayden Humphrey.

Manchester outscored Bath 7-6 before the next timeout, forced by an ace from senior Kate Pohs, to make the score 15-9. Manchester would outscore Bath 10-4 to take the first set 25-13 with the set point coming from a kill from Humphrey.

Junior Kayla Engel was responsible for seven points in the first set, including six kills, she finished the game with 14 kills.

Manchester came out strong, something that they didn’t do on Nov. 6, to ensure they didn’t fall in a 0-1 hole. Starting slowly was something they did against Vandercook Lake and early on this season.

“Definitely,” said Beasley when asked if a strong start was an area of focus after the slow start on Tuesday. “We have to be ready to go right away, we didn’t get that opportunity playing the second game (on Tuesday). It showed tonight, we were ready to go, we didn’t have the strongest warm up. They recovered from that, fixed it mentally and got out there.”

In the second set, it was a fast start once again. Bath took the first timeout trailing 9-4, After being outscored 10-5, Bath took a second timeout trailing 19-9. The set was won 25-12 after Bath served into the net.

In the third set, a kill by senior Avery Collins to make the score 6-2 forced a Bath timeout. A 10-3 Manchester run made Bath take another timeout trailing 16-5. Manchester closed the game on a 9-5 run and won the regional title 25-10 on a kill from Humphrey.

Defensively, it was another team effort. Sophomore Kayla Ridenour led the team with 9 digs, Humphrey and Pohs added 8, and Engel added 7.

“It felt pretty good,” said Humphrey on the game-winning kill. She finished with 18 kills to lead the team. “As a senior knowing it’s the last time ever getting to play, in regionals, and our first win in 25 years? It felt really good to have the final hit as a senior.”

“It’s exciting,” said Beasley when asked how bringing the first regional win in 25 years to the program felt. “But I don’t think I’m special for having done that, it’s this group of girls. I just happen to be the one standing on the sideline.”

Manchester will face Monroe St. Mary’s Catholic Central on Nov. 13 at Ann Arbor Huron in the state quarterfinals. Last year, St. Mary’s eliminated Manchester in the first regional game in four sets. Manchester sits at No. 5 in division three, while St. Mary’s is ranked No. 1.

Pictures by Mike Williamson

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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