STANTON - The Grant Tigers dominated with their serve and along net in a four game regional semifinal win over the Belding Redskins.
The Redskins – district champs three of the last four years - found themselves down early in each game and lost 25-19, 15-25, 13-25, 15-25 on Tuesday night at Central Montcalm.
The Tigers had four players with at least four aces and three with at least nine kills in the match.
“We were down early in games and battled back, but it becomes tough mentally,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said. “We didn’t serve-receive well tonight and I didn’t think our hitters were real aggressive. Sometimes your nerves take over and you just want to get the ball over the net.
“I am proud of every one of those girls. If they gave me 110 percent and did the best they could, that’s all I can ask of them,” she added.
Belding went down 7-2 in game one before chipping away and taking a lead at 11-10. Each team traded service points until Rachel Hunt earned five straight service points to take a 20-15 advantage. The Redskins closed out with a 5-4 run to capture game one,
“I think we started a little slow,” Grant coach Tricia Schuitema said. “We came back and played our game. We stayed focused and concentrated.”
The Redskins led 2-1 to start game two, but could not keep the lead. Grant slowly extended the lead to 10-6 before closing out the match with a 15-9 rally.
At one point, Linebaugh told her team to get excited. It seemed as if Belding lost the momentum from its first game win.
“I don’t know why. Normally, when you get that first game you can kind of pick it back up,” Linebaugh said. “But sometimes nerves weigh in. Sometimes a couple of bad hits or good hits by them and it effects you.”
Grant took over in game three by jumping out to a 12-1 lead. Belding fought back to trail by just four at 15-11. Dayle Wood helped the Tigers finish off the game with a 10-2 run.
“Their outside hitter (Wood) was very good,” Linebaugh said. “That was probably one of the best outside hitters I’ve seen in a while. She swung hard when she went up and was seeing the floor well.”
Wood led the Tigers with 20 kills and had six blocks.
In game four, Belding found themselves up 7-6 for the first time since a 2-1 lead in game two. The game stayed close at 14-13 with Grant leading. The Tigers rolled at the end with a 10-2 run to win the match.
“Overall, we played very well,” Schuitema said. “We never got in rhythm in that first game. We never felt it that whole game. It was nice for us to get momentum in that second game and just kept pushing.”
Summer Schuitema led the Tigers with 47 assists, 14 kills, 11 digs and four aces. Brianna Jensen had 18 digs and four aces.
Kyeligh Linebaugh led the Redskins with 27 assists. Gabby Holyfield had 14 kills and five blocks while Mindy Reminga added eight kills. Stefanie Harig had 10 digs and Hannah Linebaugh nine digs.
Belding finished the year at 19-19 overall.
Grant (42-11) will face the defending Class B state champion Fruitport Trojans in the regional final tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Central Montcalm.