BELDING — The Coopersville Broncos volleyball team went undefeated last year in league play en route to an O-K Blue Conference championship.
After Thursday nights’ match, the Belding Redskins have the early hand in the league championship race this year. Belding played near flawless volleyball as they swept the Broncos 25-22, 25-22, 25-21.
“It was a huge win for us,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said. “Coopersville is a great team and they are very well coached. I was just so pleased with the way my kids played tonight.
“We played with our heart, with dedication and to beat that good of a team in three sends a message,” she added.
Coopersville coach Shane Balcom felt his team came in thinking it was going to be an easy win.
“I think the girls came in thinking, because of last year, it was going to be the same thing this year,” he said. “I told the girls Belding is a good team. They’ve always been a good team and are scrappy.”
That thought went away quickly as the Redskins took game one 25-22. The game was close throughout with the largest Redskins lead reaching just four points.
“We are good and we work hard every day,” Linebaugh said. “The biggest thing is we have fun. We try to stay relax and go with the momentum.”
Belding carried the momentum into the second game to win another close one 25-22. The Redskins led 20-14 before a Broncos rally pulled them to within 24-22.
The Redskins, though, closed out the game on the next point.
“We are a good blocking team, but give them (Belding) credit,” Balcom said. “They put it through our block today. A lot of our blocks were sloppy and late.”
Coopersville started the third game with a small lead at 3-1. The game was tied 7-7 until the Redskins won three straight points for a 10-7 lead.
The Broncos stayed close to pull within 18-17, but that was as close as they would get, as Belding closed out the game and match with a 7-4 run.
“I thought Brooke (Linebaugh) mixed the sets up really well,” Linebaugh said. “I thought we got touches on our blocks to help our defense, we spot served really well and those are things we have been working on every day.”
Rachel Hunt led the Redskins with 19 digs and 10 kills. Gabby Holyfield had 14 kills and four blocks, Stefanie Harig 14 digs and Brooke Linebaugh had 39 assists.
While Coopersville won the league title last year, it was Belding that ended up with a district title. And the Redskins returned virtually the entire team from a year ago.
“We didn’t lose anyone and we got Gabby (Holyfield) back (from injury),” Linebaugh said. “We had a good year last year too.”
Lauren Helson led the Broncos with 18 assists, Shelby Umlor 14 digs and Quiana Cornelius seven kills.
Balcom said his team is better than last year. If that is the case, the Redskins may be in store for a monster season.
“We have a better team than last year,” Balcom said. “We have a lot of girls coming up this year. We are better with fundamentals and just a better team overall.”
Coopersville fell to 6-4-1. Belding remained undefeated at 7-0.
The Redskins will travel to the Portland Invitational on Saturday.