VICKSBURG — Lakeshore struggled to receive serves in the first game of Tuesday’s Division 2 volleyball regional semifinal against No. 6 Hamilton.
The Lancers played much better in the final two games, but Hamilton was still able to come away with a 25-9, 25-18, 25-19.
“Our serve receive was not on,” Lakeshore coach Jillian Klunder said. “Our energy and communication really impacted us that first set. But I’m proud of how the girls took that first set and did not let that control their momentum for the rest of the game. We made changes, we stepped up in our defense and our passing.”
Hamilton (38-8) had 13 aces on the night, many of them in the first game. Justine Bronkhorst led the Hawkeyes in aces with five.
“That’s certainly one of our keys for success,” Hamilton coach James Mikolajczyk said. “That’s one of our main goals every time we play, we want to serve aggressively and get teams out of system.”
Lakeshore (20-19-6) trailed the entire second game, but rallied late with four straight points to make it 23-18 before Hamilton scored the last two to put it away.
The Lancers led much of the third game and were ahead 19-18 late before Hamilton scored the final seven points to win.
The Hawkeyes had a size advantage across the front line, led by 6-2 sophomore middle hitter AJ Ediger, who had a game-high 11 kills.
“Size is one thing, but knowing how to use it,” Mikolajczyk said. “I was really proud of the way our girls played at the net — strong, active, taking aggressive swings to get them moving.”
Lakeshore did get a boost up front with the return of its own 6-2 middle hitter, Maddie Luebcke, from injury. The senior standout missed much of the season and was used sparingly, but did manage three kills.
“That’s awesome,” Klunder said. “She got cleared yesterday, and we were able to get her in one more time for her senior season. Hamilton, their strongest player was their middle (Ediger) and it was great to be able to line up Maddie against her to put up a stronger block and attack.”
Lily Cashen led Lakeshore with nine kills. Veda Gourlay had eight digs and Emma Meyer had 18 assists.
The Lancers won their first district title since 2005 and will return much of their starting lineup next season.
“We are just so impressed and proud of the girls that we were able to get to the regional semifinals,” Klunder said. “We’re excited that we do have some sophomores and juniors that are steady leaders and stable players for us that are going to be returning next year.”
Hamilton d. Lakeshore 25-9, 25-18, 25-19
Lakeshore — Bailey Joachim 3 kills, 1 assist, 5 digs; Cali Allen 2 aces, 4 kills, 5 digs; Emma Meyer 1 kill, 18 assists, 3 digs; Jamey Carpenter 2 aces; Lily Cashen 9 kills, 1 block, 3 digs; Maddie Luebcke 3 kills; Sam Pankratz 3 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs; Veda Gourlay 8 digs.
Hamilton — Alisha Couturier 6 digs; Corbyn Wayner 7 kills; Shelby Kragt 15 assists, 5 digs; Justine Bronkhorst 5 aces, 4 kills, 8 digs; Alyssa Lester 2 aces, 17 digs; Tori Folkert 3 aces, 4 kills, 13 assists, 2 digs; Olivia Lappinga 3 kills, 1 block; AJ Ediger 11 kills, 2 aces, 3 blocks, 2 digs; Jen Johnson 1 ace, 1 dig.
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