MATTAWAN — Lakeshore was given a difficult assignment in its Division 1 district volleyball opener on Wednesday, falling 25-13, 25-15, 25-11 to No. 3 Mattawan.
“It never feels good to lose, I get that, I’m competitive, but that’s a hard team to beat,” Lakeshore coach Sarah Strefling said. “They’re a successful team, they’ve played together, they’ve had the same coach, so they had a lot of things going for them that these girls didn’t.”
Lakeshore (18-15-9) didn’t lead in any of the three games as 6-foot-5 senior Natalie Foster took control for Mattawan (38-4).
Foster had five kills as the Wildcats opened the first game on a 9-2 run, five more during a 9-1 run to start the second game, and four as Mattawan built a 7-2 lead in game three.
Foster, who has committed to play in college at Wichita State, finished with a game-high 22 kills. Taylor Rutgers added 14 kills. The two are part of a strong senior class that also includes Miss Volleyball finalist Alli Wiese at libero.
“I have three seniors that are just ready to go,” Mattawan coach Michelle DeGroote said. “They’ve been on my team since they were freshmen. You always have a sense of urgency when you’re a senior, and I just think they’re leading this team in the right direction.”
Lakeshore battled back in the second game, scoring four straight points to cut the margin to 22-15 and force Mattawan to use a timeout. When play resumed, Rutgers had three straight kills to end the game, and the Wildcats weren’t threatened in the third.
“I’m proud of their improvements, I’m proud we didn’t stop,” Strefling said. “Just to see their fight and their willingness to work together was a big step for this group.”
Cali Allen and Bailey Joachim each had eight kills to lead Lakeshore. Allen also had 12 digs, and Emma Meyer added 22 assists.
Strefling took over Lakeshore shortly before tryouts, but is hoping to continue to build the program in the offseason.
“Just to see their willingness to adapt to what my values are and what my thinking is says a lot about this group,” she said. “These seniors have had four different coaches in four years.
“I’ve got a handful of good returners, so I’m excited about that. We’ve got to be able to set an expectation for ourselves, and a lot of that will happen over the summer months.”
Mattawan d. Lakeshore 25-13, 25-15, 25-11
Mattawan — Natalie Foster 22 kills; Taylor Rutgers 14 kills.
Lakeshore — Emma Meyer 22 assists; Cali Allen 8 kills, 12 digs; Sierra Ciesielski 4 kills, 10 digs; Bailey Joachim 8 kills, 6 digs; Ally Gillem 7 digs.
Records — Mattawan 38-4, Lakeshore 18-15-9.
Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders