Wildcats win Regional crown, downed in semi-final matchup

Haley Hagen • couriersports@vineyardpress.biz
Mattawan Wildcats show off their Regional championship trophy.  Haley Hagen photo

   The Mattawan volleyball team continued its exciting run through the tournament over the past week, claiming a Regional title, but losing a neck-and-neck semi-final battle.
   Last Thursday, the Wildcats traveled to Battle Creek Lakeview to take on the Jackson Northwest Mounties in the Regional final. Mattawan wasted little time taking the lead in the opening set, and never looked back. Senior Natalie Foster, put up a serve that went nearly untouched to give the Wildcats a 5-2 lead. Teammates Addy Porter and Taylor Rutgers put up back-to-back blocks and pushed Mattawan ahead, 9-2.
   The Wildcats worked together to extend their lead, and senior Alli Wiese sealed the win for her team at 25-11 with a  service ace.
   The start of the second set was closer. Taylor Rutgers gave Mattawan a 6-5 lead when she laid down a huge kill. Shortly after, a Foster kill gave the Wildcats a slim 9-8 lead. From there, Mattawan slowly pulled away and sealed the second set when Maggie Pelak laid down a kill giving the Wildcats a 25-16 win. Mattawan earned  the Division 1 Region 4 championship, taking the third set, 25-14. 
   The regional win sent Mattawan on to the semi-final round at Jenison High School, where the Wildcats met the 53-3 Lowell Red Arrows. The matchup was the second of the season between the teams. Lowell won that first meeting, 2-1.
   Mattawan took the lead early in the first set. Lowell  closed in, but the Wildcats held on for a 25-17 win.
   The second set was tight throughout. Mattawan held a 12-8 lead when Lowell laid down an ace serve cutting into the lead. Late in the set Lowell tied the score at 21 when they went up for a big block. With the score again tied at 24, Lowell kept the Wildcats from scoring and won the second set, 26-24.
   During the third set Lowell ran out to a 16-7 lead and the Wildcats could not come back. Lowell took the third set 25-17. Mattawan fought hard in the final set but ultimately their season ended with a decisive Lowell block.
   Mattawan ended its  season with an impressive 41-5 record. The loss sends off three very successful seniors with four-year varsity careers behind them:  Natalie Foster, Taylor Rutgers and Alli Wiese. 

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