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Published: Friday, 3/19/2004

East Kentwood bumps Bedford

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Bedford had to pack it in after the first day of the high school state volleyball tournament yesterday at Western Michigan's University Arena, but the Mules went out kicking.

No. 2 East Kentwood (77-5) won the first game fairly easily, but a much more aggressive Bedford team gave the Falcons a scare in the second game before bowing out, 15-8, 15-11, in the Class A semifinals.

“It's a tribute to these kids,” said Bedford coach Jodi Manore, whose team ended the season with a 67-8-1 record. “They weren't going to quit. They weren't going to make it easy.”

It was the 15th straight trip to the state's final four for Bedford in Manore's 19th season. The Mules won the title twice.

“East Kentwood has been ranked first or second all year and is an extremely good team,” Manore said. “We just came up short. We played hard

Bedford was plagued in the first game by passing troubles, which were amplified by the sound serving - including six aces - of East Kentwood's Emily Nemmers.

“We've had trouble passing all year,” said Manore. “Once we started passing, we were able to run our offense a little better."

East Kentwood built a 9-3 lead in the first game and didn't let Bedford back in, save for a few more points - three on aces by junior Lauren Keiser, sophomore Lexi Leonhard, and senior Corey Calcamuggio.

The Falcons again built a lead, 7-3 this time, but Bedford rallied right back to tie and then go ahead, 8-7, on three kills by sophomore Tara Breske. Bedford stayed on top or even with East Kentwood until the score reached 11.

A kill by East Kentwood's Krista Groce, an ace by Katie VanderMeer, and two huge blocks by Groce quickly put an end to the match and Bedford's season.

“These kids have spent not only the last four months but the last four years as well working for this,” East Kentwood coach Roxane Steenhuysen said. “We've had a brutal road to get here.”

East Kentwood moves on to a much anticipated championship match against defending champ Fraser (69-2) tomorrow at University Arena. Fraser advanced by downing Traverse City West, 15-2, 15-5.

The Bedford sophomores led their team in kills, Breske with nine to go with her nine digs, and Veronica Rood with eight. Senior Kate Sulewski had 27 assists. East Kentwood's Jennifer Stewart led with 10 kills.



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