BELDING — Two in a row and four out of the last five. That’s how many volleyball district titles the Belding Redskins have won in the past five years.
On Thursday, the Redskins (17-16-5) defeated the Central Montcalm Hornets 25-17, 25-12, 25-13 to sweep the Class B district championship game at Redskin Arena.
The fact the Redskins have no seniors, start four freshman and lost a key player to injury made this win all the more special.
“Excitement is one word. I’m so proud of these kids as young as we are,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said. “I think at the start of the year people would have laughed if we thought this was possible.”
The Redskins started strong and never looked back as they opened an 8-1 lead in the first game. The Hornets battled to within 18-14, but Belding closed out the game with a 7-3 run.
“I thought we came out focused, we did our job, we did what we could control and we stayed in it for three strong games,” Linebuagh said. “I’m very proud of everyone tonight.”
While the Redskins came out confident, the Hornets showed their nerves throughout the match.
“We were nervous. I really can’t blame it on anything else,” Central Montcalm coach Haley Dawe said. “We came prepared, we tried hard, but we got out there and never relaxed.”
Game two was the same as the first. Belding opened a lead, before the Hornets battled back.
The Hornets trailed 7-2 and got to within 12-10. The Redskins took over from there and dominated with a 13-2 final run.
“As long as we serve-received and set something up, I thought our offense ran well,” Linebaugh said. “They had some good swings and really good servers. We just focused to work through that.”
Central Montcalm jumped out to the lead in game three. The Hornets led 5-1, before the Redskins took the lead at 7-6. Belding finished the match with an 18-7 run.
“We did make a couple of runs, but then we would get a couple of balls against us and it completely defeated us,” Dawe said. “It was hard to come back after that.”
Belding defeated Lakeview (Monday), Shepherd (Wednesday) and the Hornets to win the title. They did not lose a single game throughout the tournament.
“This was a big week. Lakeview played us strong on Monday. They are a great team,” Linebaugh said. “It was a well fought district.”
Stefanie Harig and Hannah Linebaugh led the Redskins with 18 digs. Harig added 11 kills. Brooke Linebaugh had 35 assists and six aces, Rachel Hunt led with 13 kills and added four aces. Sam McNeal had three aces and Carrie Smith two blocks.
Paige Switzer had 10 kills and seven digs for the Hornets. Michaela Crooks had 11 assists and three kills. Kirsi Singh added five kills, while Brooke Hollenbeck had four digs.
“I have eight seniors this year and they have worked so hard the past four years,” Dawe said. “I hate to see the season end this way, but they made it to the finals, which is a pretty cool thing. I’m proud of the girls with how they competed.”
Central Montcalm finished the season 14-16-4.
The Redskins will travel to Fremont on Tuesday for the regional semifinals. They will face the winner of Saturday’s district final between Chippewa Hills and Reed City.
For Belding now, it’s about celebrating another district crown.
“Everyone is special, but it’s not how I feel, it’s how the kids feel,” Linebaugh said. “I told them if you’ve never won a district, you will feel it in your stomach when it happens. I wanted them to enjoy it.”