ROCKFORD - After a slow start the Greenville Yellow Jackets volleyball team fought hard for the final two games. In the end, it wasn’t enough to defeat the No. 2 rated team in Class A.
The Rockford Rams defeated Greenville in straight sets 25-10, 27-25, 25-18 in the opening round of the District No. 7 tournament on Tuesday at Rockford.
“We could pass the ball on serve-receive,” Greenville coach Amy Rupno said of the difference between game one and the final games. “It was something we struggled with and you could see the girls got frustrated in the first game.”
Game one was tied 5-5 before the Rams closed out the game with a 20-5 run. At that point it looked like the Rams would cruise through three games. That was not the case.
Game two went back and forth. Rockford’s largest lead of the game was at 13-10. The Yellow Jackets battled back to take a 19-17 lead before the Rams tied the game again at 20-20.
The Yellow Jackets rallied and, after a soft tap over two Ram defenders by Leah Somerfield, took a 24-21 advantage. Just one point from winning the game.
“We refocused and decided we were going to play our game,” Rupno said. “That was the big difference. Our passing.”
The Rams called timeout and got things together to score the next four points for a 25-24 lead. They won the game 27-25.
“I told them we need to stay confident out there,” Rockford coach Kelly Delacher said of his timeout speech. “We needed to continue what we’ve done all year. It came down to passes for us and we got some momentum going.”
Rockford jumped out to a 10-6 lead in game three. Greenville battled back to tie the game at 10 and stay close trailing by just a point at 17-16.
The Rams found another gear and closed out the match with an 8-3 finish.
“I thought Greenville played us really well,” Delacher said. “They have some talented players over there and really made us work to get by them.”
The Yellow Jackets’ (26-17-1) season ended with the loss. Rupno was happy with the team’s performance.
“We played phenomenal against Rockford. They are definitely a strong team,” Rupno said. “We did not back down. We kept fighting. A loss is upsetting, but I think we played phenomenal.”
The Rams will face Forest Hills Northern on Thursday in the district semifinal. Lowell – who defeated Grand Rapids Creston in the early match – will face the Northview Wildcats in the other semifinal. The district finals are set for Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Leading the Rams was Ohio State-bound Andrea Kacsits with 10 kills and three blocks. Michigan State-bound Halle Peterson had 35 assists. Murphy Heyer added 10 kills and two aces.
Megan O’Brien led Greenville with 20 assists. Somerfield had six kills and five blocks. Heather Harrington and Rosalyn Wyse each had six kills while Rachel Taft had six digs.
“We had our ups and downs,” Rupno said of her season. “We had a winning record. We tired at the end, but I’m happy with the season. We did well this season.”