Hamilton beats Holland Christian, Hopkins for district title
It’s been said that’s it’s hard to beat a team twice in season, but how about four times? Yes, four times.
The Hamilton volleyball team did just that when it posted the 24-26, 25-20, 19-25, 25-19 and 15-13 victory over archrival Holland Christian in a Class B district final on Thursday, Nov. 1. The district title was the second straight for the Hawkeyes.
“This is even sweeter than last year when we won our first district in 10 years,” said Hamilton senior Alyssa Lester, who netted 20 digs.
Even though the Hawkeyes took the previous three clashes against the Maroons, Lester—one of five Hamilton seniors—had a ton of praise for Holland Christian.
“It seems like every time we play them it’s a battle, a close match,” said Lester. “We didn’t want this to be our last game. I know like tonight (the competition) is going to get harder and harder as we go on.”
Even though his players may not have noticed, Hamilton coach James Mikolajczyk admitted he may have lost another hair or two off his shaved head.
“It was obvious that both teams were feeling a little pressure knowing this could be their final game of the season,” Mikolajczyk said.
The match point was finally decided after a Maroon player served the ball into the net.
“We obviously wanted to win, but can’t help but feel for that girl,” Mikolajczyk said.
Once again the Hamilton student section was led by the booming voice of Kaleb Essink.
“You can’t help but hear our fans, especially Kaleb,” Lester said. “They are the best. I hear them all the time even when I’m serving.”
AJ Ediger played a major role in Hamilton’s win.
“AJ got it going and really gave us a big spark when we needed it the most,” Mikolajczyk said.
Ediger finished with eight blocks, nine kills and seven digs.
Corbyn Wayner collected 13 kills for Hamilton, while adding eight kills and 12 digs was Justine Bronkhorst. Shelby Kragt had 19 assists and 11 digs. Tori Folkert was credited with three aces, 16 assists and 10 digs, while Olivia Lappinga chipped in with three blocks and two kills.
“It ended up being a great night for Hamilton volleyball,” Mikolajczyk said.
Hawkeyes beat Hopkins in semis
Hamilton reached the finals thanks to a 25-13, 25-15, 25-20 victory over coach Terrie Wisser’s Hopkins squad on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
The Vikings were playing without the services of the injured Nicole Pitsch.
“We missed Nicole,” Wisser said. “She’s a hustler but I was very proud of how we played against one of the best teams we’ve played this season. We played hard and never gave up.”
Wisser knew it was no disgrace to lose to the OK Green Conference champion Hawkeyes, ranked sixth in the latest state Division 2 poll.
“They’re a very good all-around team that has a lot of height,” Wisser said.
Ediger cranked out 15 kills, seven digs and three blocks.
“AJ was just one of many girls that played well,” Mikolajczak said.
Mikolajczak also liked what he witnessed from Kragt (18 assists and two aces), Bronkhorst (eight kills and 13 kills) and Folkert (17 assists, 14 digs and three aces).
A monster kill by Olivia Lappenga closed out Hamilton’s game-one win.
“We had a lot of girls step up tonight,” Mikolajczak said.
Hopkins (35-13-3) received 15 assists from Lindsey Bulich; nine kills and 10 digs from Brianna Miller; 12 digs from Kennedy Helderop; and nine digs from Madison Wyngarden.
“It was a fun season,” Wisser said. “You always hate to say goodbye to the seniors and to see the season end, but you have to remember that only one team ends the season happy.”