Hamilton claims district crown with comeback victory
That was the feeling of Corbyn Wayner and several of her teammates after the Hamilton volleyball team captured its third consecutive Division 2 district championship on Thursday, Nov. 7.
“To beat one of our top rivals for the third time (this season) was huge,” Wayner said.
The third-ranked Hawkeyes had to pull off one of their best comeback wins this season to oust a determined Holland Christian outfit in five sets.
“Give Holland Christian a lot of credit,” said Hamilton coach James Mikolajczyk. “They played very well.”
The Hawkeyes rallied from a 2-1 deficit on the way to topping the Maroons 25-20, 16-25, 23-25, 25-21, 15-6.
Wayner and Mikolajczyk were expecting another close encounter versus the ninth-ranked Maroons.
“Like us, they wanted it bad,” Wayner said.
The Hawkeyes turned up their intensity at the right time.
“I felt confident, especially after our fourth-set win,” Mikolajczyk said.
With such powerhouses as AJ Ediger, Jen Johnson, Shelby Kragt, Alisha Couturier, Justine Bronkhorst and Olivia Lappinga on his roster, Mikolajczyk knows what his team can accomplish when they play “Hamilton volleyball.” Not that teams like Holland Christian are going to make it easy for the Hawkeyes.
“We obviously have a very good team, but do does Holland Christian,” Mikolajczyk said. “The thing we all have to remember is that at this time of the year everyone starts 0-0.”
The win sent the Hawkeyes into regional action on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at Otsego against Paw Paw.
A big kill in the fourth set by Wayner keyed Hamilton’s come-from-behind victory.
“Corbyn was awesome,” said Hamilton’s All-State senior setter candidate Shelby Kragt, who collected 53 assists and seven digs.
With several members of Hamilton’s student section—which outnumbered Holland Christian by several dozen, on the conservative side—doing what appeared to be back flips on the sidelines, the Hawkeyes easily sealed the fifth and final set 15-6.
“I can’t say enough about our fans,” Kragt said. “There’s none better anywhere.”
The crowd-pleasing and emotional Edgier ended up with 24 kills, eight digs and five aces. Wayner added 21 digs and 16 kills, while Jen Johnson had 21 digs, Justine Bronkhorst had 19 digs and seven kills and Alisha Couturier had 13 digs.
“This team has a heart of a lion,” Mikolajczyk said.