Coyotes finish strong

Reed City finishes CSAA with 8-1 mark following win over Indians

REED CITY — After falling 2-1 to White Cloud in a home quad meet on Monday, the Reed City volleyball team didn’t want a repeat of that scenario in its regular-season finale against the Indians on Wednesday.

BACK AND FORTH: Reed City's Natalie Westhoff (right) hits a shot over the outstretched arms of a p[air of White Cloud defenders during Wednesday's volleyball action. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

BACK AND FORTH: Reed City’s Natalie Westhoff (right) hits a shot over the outstretched arms of a p[air of White Cloud defenders during Wednesday’s volleyball action. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

Reed City took a 2-1 lead in the final Central State Activities Association (CSAA) match of the season but White Cloud won the fourth set, 25-15, to force a deciding fifth set.

With the momentum on the Indians’ side, a Coyotes team that eight of its 10 players are seniors decided that it wasn’t leaving without sending its seniors off the right way.

So it was fitting that the Coyotes bolted out to a 6-0 lead in the fifth set on the strength of senior Heather Tacey’s six-straight service points, including two aces, and got four kills from senior Jacolyn Mullins on the way to 15-7 set victory and a 3-2 win over the Indians.

“We were in the timeout and coach just told us to take over,” Mullins said. “We knew what we had to do and we’ve been doing it all season. My job is being consistent on our team and Heather is a big part of our team.

“I’m happy that after three years playing together on varsity, we had a good, exciting experience this season,” she added.

Mullins said after four years at Reed City, Wednesday’s victory was the perfect cap to her final regular season.

“It meant a lot to win this one,” she said. “I remember coming to this school four years ago and and all I wanted to do was play on this court. It was the best four years I could have had. I can’t believe this is the last time I get to play on this court.”

The night got off to an unpleasant start for the Coyotes as they battled back-and-forth with the Indians to a 16-16 tie in the first set before White Cloud went on a 9-5 scoring run to come away with the 25-21 set victory.

After a heartbreaking first set, Reed City coach Don Patterson said the Coyotes took the timeout in between sets to get back on track.

“They just kind of came together,” he said. “We’ve played pretty well toward the end of the year and I think the girls are confident in their abilities. They just know they have to settle in and do the things that we do and let things happen.”

Reed City came out with a purpose in the second set as it quickly built up an 18-5 lead and cruised to a 25-13 set victory.

The Coyotes kept that momentum going into the third set as they matched the Indians point-for-point to a 19-19 tie before the Coyotes went on a 6-4 scoring run to come away with the 25-23 set victory.

White Cloud got back on track in the fourth set as it built up a 13-8 lead before Reed City stormed back with a 6-2 scoring run to trim the Indians’ lead to 15-14. White Cloud rallied with a 10-1 scoring run the rest of the way to take the set, 25-15, and force the fifth and final set.

Mullins ended the game with 34 digs, 21 kills and three aces while Brittani Yarger dished out 49 assists and tallied two aces and a dig. Karah Hensel scored 30 digs and Tacey piled up 11 digs, five kills and two aces.

Wednesday’s win put the Coyotes at 28-19-1 overall and 8-1 in the CSAA, finishing in sole possession of second place, while White Cloud fell to 6-3.

While finishing second in a tough CSAA was an accomplishment for the Coyotes, Mullins said the team’s focus shifts squarely on defending last year’s district title when Reed City begins district play next Wednesday when the Coyotes play the winner of the Big Rapids versus Harrison first-round matchup that takes place on Monday.

“I can’t wait for districts,” she said. “I’m ready to defend our title and I want to keep on running. I don’t want this season to end until it has to.”

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