When Charlevoix and Morley-Stanwood last met on the volleyball court nearly eight weeks ago, the Rayders were in the midst of change.
Charlevoix had just lost one of its most talented players for the season, and coach Liz Shaw was juggling the lineup to compensate.
Now almost two months after a 25-20, 25-13 setback to the Mohawks in the semifinals of the Morley-Stanwood Invitational, the two teams collide again. This time it’s in the Class C semifinals this afternoon at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena. The Rayders, ranked No. 7, bring a 49-4-6 record in the 3:45 p.m. match. Morley-Stanwood, ranked No. 2, is 56-4-2.
“So much has changed on our team since the tournament (at Morley-Stanwood),” Shaw said. “I’m real excited to see how we match up, given how well we’re playing now. I think we’ll be pretty competitive if we keep strong at the net and keep attacking hard. At this level, any free balls over (the net) or hits that are not effective are going to come right back at you. I told my girls, ‘We have to be fundamentally strong, we have to attack hard every opportunity we get.’”
The Rayders were in attack mode on Tuesday, beating Houghton 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Megan Peters, Madeline Boss and Karley Pearsall all finished with double-digit kills as setter Jenna Way kept the Gremlins off-balance with her distribution of the ball.
Way and libero Kelly Greyerbiehl are the only two Rayders who didn’t switch positions this season.
“We’ve gone through so much this season,” Way said. “But we’re peaking at the right time, and that’s the most important thing.”
“We made some really big changes,” she said. “We really had to grow and adapt and we’ve done that. Everybody’s stepped up. The girls were challenged and they met that challenge.
“I think their going to rise to the occasion (today) and play Morley tough. The team that makes the least amount of errors, the team that attacks the ball hard, that’s the team that will win.”
The Mohawks, who lost to eventual state champion Fruitport in the Class B regionals last year, are led by Alexis Huntey, the Miss Volleyball runner-up.
“She’s an excellent hitter, very powerful,” Shaw said. “A great passer, too. Just a great all-around player.”
The 6-foot-2 Huntey signed with George Washington University last week. She has more than 2,000 kills in her career.
The Rayders, who won their first regional in school history last week, arrived in Battle Creek on Thursday.
“The girls are really excited and pumped to be down here and to have the opportunity to play in the state semifinals,” Shaw said. “This has been their goal. We’re down to four teams. Any one of the four can win it.”
In the other semifinal, top-ranked Delton Kellogg will face No. 3 Monroe St. Mary, the defending champion.