CHICAGO, IL.: Going into the Moody Invitational Coach Spooner believed history would be made. “I had every confidence we could be playing for the championship. That would’ve been the first time since 1994, when we came from a fourth seed and won.” But while the history didn’t match the highest hope, the Tigers did earn the right to play for 3rd place. “We are disappointed, especially how we competed in that second match. We had total control over our destiny and struggled with some adversity, injuries and Northland outplayed us to advance to the finals against the # 5 team in the Nation, Moody Bible.”
In the first match of the day the Tigers came out strong defeating Alverno College of Milwaukee, 25-11; 25-23; 25-17. Balance attacks and strong serving were the cornerstone of Tiger play. Led by Nichole Galbiscek, (Okinawa, Japan) with 11 kills and only three errors, Naomi Kemper (Hudsonville HS, Hudsonville, MI) with 10 and Shelby Jamieson, (Wayland HS; Wayland,MI) with 6 kills and 25 assists the Tigers seemed poised to make history.
“I was a bit apprehensive about this weekend because Joee (Spooner) is not allowed to make any arm swing on the ball. The trainer cleared her to play but only if we limited her attacking to tips. That takes out our top % attacker but I was encouraged with some of the other players who stepped up. Brittany Ramirez, (Lowell HS; Lowell, MI) played exceptionally well in the front row for a sick Rayna DoBrodt.” Coach Spooner said.
Playing Northland International for the third time this year the Tigers felt like they had an advantage. That same Alverno team in the second match of pool play took Northland to a 5th set before Northland won 16-14. “I don’t think we entered this match over confident at all, but I do think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves knowing we can be competitive. We have to learn how to sit out for almost three hours and come back ready to play.”
In that first set the Tigers found themselves in a hole before coming back though losing 20-25. In the second set the Tigers found some energy, playing more like themselves and came from behind again to win 25-23. “I though we’d have some momentum going into the third set but uncharacteristic play put us down losing 25-15. Credit Northland for putting us in too many out of system plays where we just had to get it back into play.” Coach Spooner noted.
In the fourth set again the Tigers found themselves in a hole by well placed serves and attacks by Northland. The Tigers found some life though being down 12-19 and coming back only to lose 20-25. “This was a valuable experience for us. We’ve not been in this position to advance to a tournament finals in years. We have to learn to compete for every point every time and do so as a team. We really tried hard but sometimes you can try to do too much as individuals and not as a team.” Coach Spooner said after the match.
Again the Tigers were led by Nichole and Naomi with 11 and 10 kills respectively. Shelby had 28 assists and 5 aces.
The Tigers advance to the third place match and excited about the rematch with Indiana University Northwest.