Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

November 15, 2013

Gladiators fall in regional finals

MCBAIN — The road finally ended for a young St. Francis volleyball team here Thursday in the Class C regional finals.

The Gladiators gave the third-ranked Aggies of Beal City a fight before falling in four games, 25-23, 25-27, 25-21, 25-19. Every game was a battle, but in the end the Aggies had a little too much firepower up front.

“We played some of the best volleyball today that we’ve played all season, but they have so many hard hitters,” said St. Francis co-coach Rita Jones. “There’s never any let up. I thought we matched their intensity but we couldn’t quite match their hitting. I was still really proud of our girls and the effort they gave. It was a great match against a great team.”

The third-ranked Aggies improved to 54-3-1 and advanced to a quarterfinal clash on Tuesday against Calumet. The Glads finished their second straight season with a long playoff run.

“Nobody expected us to get this far again with such a young team,” Jones said. “Last year we made it to the regionals (and ultimately to the state finals at Battle Creek) for the first time ever and we’re right back in the regional finals again this year. The girls are young but they came together and played great down the stretch to get us here.”

Co-coach Heather Simpson agreed.

“The girls battled and never gave up,” Simpson said. “We played against a really good team tonight and we were right there with them in every game. The girls left it all on the court and you wouldn’t want it any other way. Hats off to Beal for winning the region and hats off to our girls, too, for playing with so much passion and not giving an inch. It’s been a great run for us.”

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