New Crossroads volleyball coach reflects on successful season

Crossroads’ McKenzie Cole earned all-West Michigan D League honors this season.(Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Crossroads Charter Academy volleyball skipper Kristin Yates had a successful first year of varsity coaching.

Yates was a new varsity skipper but was a coach for her seventh year overall.

Crossroads was 5-4 in the West Michigan D League and 8-5 overall.

“I feel that the team had a great season,” Yates said. “We were a young team this year and we had a lot to learn, but we improved with every practice and every game and I’m happy with how we ended up overall. The girls certainly exceeded my expectations. I knew coming in that there were many things I wanted to implement and change and that this season would be a learning year for all of us. However, the girls took everything I threw at them and ran with it and really went above and beyond where I thought we would end in the conference.

“Seeing our freshman reach their potential towards the end of the season was really exciting for our girls. The freshman started to get more excited and more confident, and it allowed the team to have more opportunities throughout each match. Along with that, we had some exciting games in which we were behind and were able to rally and come back for an upset, and there’s nothing more exciting than seeing the team get excited about reaching a potential they didn’t think they had.”

The team had to take on various challenges.

“Our biggest challenge was playing to our full potential in every match we came to,” Yates said. “We really could come together and play strongly, but sometimes the team just didn’t show up. We really struggled to make it through tournaments, and, as a team, we struggled to stay out of our own heads and that brought us down from the level we should have been able to play at in each game.”

Natalie Chapman had a strong season for the Cougars.

“She had a slow start to the year, but after we went back to the basics at practice one day, she really started to shine,” Yates said. “Her blocking improved immensely and her hits started to come together for her. These two things really rounded her out as a player as she was already strong in the back row.

“Jessica Cole came onto our team as a freshman this year, and Megan Schultz joined us as libero for her senior year. Although they were both nervous, they were key players for our back row. They both had the keen ability to get under the ball no matter where they were at on the court, and they were great on coverage.”

Samantha Taylor will be a key graduation loss for CCA.

“She has been strong in both back and front row as well as a one of our key servers. Her passing game was really strong, and she’ll be a big loss for our back row next year,” Yates said. “Grace Clark will be an integral player for us in the front row next year. She really started to find herself at the end of the season and could become one of our strongest hitters next year. She’ll be a sophomore, so she really has a lot of potential that has still been untapped as of right now.

“Mackenzie Cole, Triston Murray, and Jada Meeuwes will all be key returners for our front row next season. Mackenzie has been and continues to work hard during the season and in the off season. As our main setter, she continues to be a big presence in the front row as well as from the service line. Triston Murray has started to find herself in her swing in the front row, and will hopefully continue to work in the off season so that she can become a big hitter for us. Jada moved to an outside hitter this year and that really worked in her favor. She gets the majority of our sets when we’re out of system and it has really forced her to adjust her swing and her timing to get on top of the ball. Together, they could be one very strong front row next year.’

Cole earned all-league first-team honors, Meeuwes was on the second team and Taylor earned honorable mention status.

“We are only graduating two seniors this year, so we will be working with the return of the majority of this year’s team,” Yates said. “I believe that this will be an advantage to us since we’ve had a year to get to know how each of our players contributes to the team and what they need to work on specifically. With this, I believe that we have the potential to have an even better season next year and a better overall record.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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