BY DAN STICKRADT
MT. MORRIS — All good things must come to an end.
For Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes’ girls volleyball team, that end came Tuesday night.
Enjoying one of their best seasons in school history, the Lakers run through the state tournament ended against Beal City. The fourth-ranked Aggies upended WOLL, 3-1, in a four-set match played at Mt. Morris.
Beal City posted a 25-22, 15-25, 25-12, 25-18 victory to advance to Friday’s state semifinals at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
“We had a great season. We just came up a little short tonight,” said WOLL coach Stephanie Swearingen. “I am so proud of my girls and what they accomplished this season. This is the best team we’ve had here in a long, long time.
“When we lost in the regional finals last season, one of our goals this season was to make it further than last year,” added Swearingen. “We were able to do that. To put it in perspective, we lost to the No. 3-ranked team in the state and we were ranked 10th. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”
The Lakers (38-7-4) advanced further in the state tournament since reaching the state semifinals in 2001, long before any current players or coaching staff members came into the picture.
Beal City (44-10-1) captured its seventh regional championship last week and is now in the Final Four for the third time and first time since 2009. The Aggies will face second-ranked Mendon in the semifinals at 3:45 p.m. Friday.
Game 3 was the difference maker for Beal City, which went on to win the fourth set by a close margin after a 13-point victory in the third set.
“I think the third game hurt us. That really took the momentum away from us after we played well to win Game 2,” said Swearingen.
Freshman Courtney Wightman slammed 14 kills with three aces to lead the Lakers. Christina Knudlak added nine kills and Haley Howell had 31 assists, six digs, three kills and an ace.
Addie Schumacher had 14 kills for Beal City.
“The hard thing about Class D is that the (schools) are so spread out that you don’t know much about the other teams this far into the tournament. You don’t have any common opponents,” offered Swearingen. “It keeps you guessing. You try to get film, but you don’t know all that much about them. I guess it makes it harder to prepare.
“We’re not making excuses, though. We lost to a very good team,” added Swearingen. “Every team at this stage is very good. We needed to play a little better to win this match.”
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