ST. JOSEPH – Michigan Lutheran's experience advantage paid off against Lake Michigan Catholic as the Titans won Wednesday's Dig Pink volleyball game 22-25, 25-13, 25-12, 25-22.
Decked out in pink attire, students and fans packed the gymnasium to support their teams. Proceeds from the event went to the Side-Out Foundation.
"We have a fairly young team," Catholic coach Ashley Pagel said. "It's always challenging playing in such a hyped-up match like this, especially when fans are cheering right next to you. But I think we did well; we have a lot of work to do in practice.
"They have great attitudes and I'm pleased with what I've been seeing so far."
Lutheran (8-7-2) started set one with a 9-3 run but Catholic bounced back to take the set 25-22. The Titans responded by taking the next two sets by 12 and 13 points, respectively.
"We started quick and they lost some concentration," Michigan Lutheran coach Bruce Molineaux said. "We started serving well and we got the ball to our setter and got some offense. Our setters did a good job of getting to the ball and getting the ball to our hitters.
Set four was competitive throughout. Back-to-back aces from LM Catholic's Elena Proos tied the game at 17 and an error put the Lakers up 18-17. The Titans answered back with an 8-4 run to finish the game, highlighted by a Brooke Gerlach spike for the 24th point.
"We came back in the first game for the win," Pagel said. "I was really proud of them for making a comeback in the last set. That's not easy to do after losing the previous two games. Elena did a great job serving the ball to make a comeback. She does a great job reading the defense.
"She's a great libero and leader on the court. Hattie (Latham) always makes really good saves for us."
Consistency played a significant role in the Titans' success on the court.
"They played their lanes," Molineaux said. "They were starting to play smart. Our serves were very good."
The growing pains that come with a young team were on full display with Lake Michigan Catholic.
"This was our first night running with a 6-2 rotation," Pagel said. "We got called out of rotation a few times but once we get some of these kinks worked out I'm excited to see what we can do. This match gave us a lot of motivation to work at practice. We'll try to get our rotations down and our passes dialed in a bit more.
"That way, we can start running our offense a little bit better."
Michigan Lutheran has its sights set on a division title and Wednesday's test showed the Titans that they have room to grow.
"This is a good start," Molineaux said. "(Catholic) can put the ball down. They dug out a lot of balls that we hit. We're at the Bridgman tournament next Monday. There's going to be good competition for us that will help us with the rest of the year."
Michigan Lutheran d. LM Catholic 22-25, 25-13, 25-12, 25-22
M Lutheran – Mara Rugen 17 kills, 11 digs; Maria Rush 7 kills, 9 digs; Abbey Harris 5 kills, 3 digs; Brooke Gerlach 2 kills; Katie Rainey 2 kills, 19 digs; Hailey Conrad 1 kill, 5 digs, 13 assists; Sophie Garcia 1 kills, 4 digs, 9 assists; Clare Berghaus 1 kill, 2 assists.
LM Catholic – Emily Lage 6 kills, 32 digs, 7 assists, 2 aces; Elena Proos 2 kills, 30 digs, 4 aces; Hattie Latham 7 kills, 24 digs, 6 assists, 1 ace; Jenna Cutter 11 digs, 1 ace; Maggie Tidey 4 kills, 3 blocks, 6 digs; Chloe Mills 1 block, 12 digs; Stella Rosenbaum 1 block.
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