D2 VOLLEYBALL FINALS: No. 1 Grand Rapids Christian sweeps Lake Odessa Lakewood to repeat as D2 champs
BATTLE CREEK — Jordyn Gates said she had tears in her eyes Saturday morning. Those tears became tears of joy come Saturday evening.
Grand Rapids Christian’s senior setter recorded 39 assists, 13 digs, six kills and two aces Saturday at Kellogg Arena in leading the top-ranked Eagles to a 3-0 sweep of No. 2 Lake Odessa Lakewood.
Gates, who recorded more than 1,000 assists this season, was a Miss Volleyball finalist this year for a team ranked No. 1 the whole season.
“It was hard because I realized that this was the last time I would put on jersey and play for (Grand Rapids Christian),” said Gates, who signed with Division I Arkansas. “It was really emotional this morning, last time ever being coached by her. She’s my biggest inspiration. Being able to play for her and having her coaching me and pushing me every single day. Even today she was still telling me things I needed to work on. It never stopped. She’s definitely my biggest inspiration, so it’s been awesome sharing this journey with her.”
“This is the last time that I would play with these girls and last time I would play for my mom (Coach Tiffanie Gates),” said Jordyn Gates. “She has always been there supporting me, coaching me, teaching me. Even tonight she was pulling me aside and telling me things I need to work on — even in a state championship game.”
Gates and company ended a fine two-year run with a 25-21, 25-15, 25-16 victory over Vikings in a match that last just over one hour. The Eagles were rarely tested the past couple of weeks, sweeping four of their final five opponents. Only a 3-2 decision over Coopersville in the regional finals provided a stiff challenge for Grand Rapids Christian.
“It’s been a blessing to be able to coach my daughter,” said coach Gates, who finished up her ninth season with a second straight title. “Now that it’s over, it’s really sad. It’s been a blessing to coach this team. We’ve had an amazing run. I’m sad it’s over.”
Every time Lakewood made a run, Grand Rapids Christian (46-3-0) regained the momentum. The Eagles led for most of the evening.
“Our strength this year has just been playing very evenly — not getting too high or too low,” coach Gates said. “I just said, ‘You know what, you’re fine. We’re just going to go out there and play defense and serve tough and pass well and focus on your game, one point at a time.’ That’s been our motto all season, one point at a time. Don’t project, ‘What if we don’t win? We’re supposed to win.’ So we’re really trying to focus on the one point at a time.”
Junior Addison VanderWeide slammed 28 kills to the floor to aid Grand Rapids Christian’s sweep. Ayva Kooistra had six kills and three blocks, Evelyn Doezema contributed six kills, and both Lauren Paul and Elizabeth Rupp scooped up eight digs apiece.
Lakewood (40-13-2) slipped to 1-5 all-time in state finals games — and lost in the finals for a fourth time in six seasons. The Vikings did win a Class B title in 2012.
“(Grand Rapids Christian) has all the physical attributes you need to win,” sighed Lakewood second-year coach Carmeron Rowland. “They have great seniors, great height, very well-coached and are used to winning. And they have Jordyn Gates — she’s one of the best in the state. She’s my intern, and I’ve known her for quite some time.
“We are excited, even though we lose three seniors, because we had a freshman setter out there and will return most of our team next year,” continued Rowland. “I don’t think anyone else in the Final Four had a freshman setter. We also have a very talented eighth grade class coming up … plus some talented kids on our JV, I think we can fills those (three voids) and try to make another run at it in the (near) future.”
Lakewood was paced by 11 kills from Aubrey O’Gorman. Meredith O’Gorman added 10 kills and 10 digs, Skyler Bump, the Vikings’ heralded freshman, chipped in with 25 assists and nine digs, while Sophie Duits and Kiana Hummel had 10 digs apiece.