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Published: Friday, 3/17/2006

Bedford falls to nemesis at state

BY DONALD EMMONS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Once again history repeated itself when Bedford met East Kentwood in a Class A state semifinal volleyball match.

Unfortunately, the results meant the defending state champion Fighting Mules would succomb to the Falcons for the fourth time in as many state semifinal meetings between the two longtime powerhouses.

Second-ranked East Kentwood overcame a 2-games-to-1 deficit to topple top-ranked Bedford 25-18, 17-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-11 yesterday at Western Michigan University.

East Kentwood (66-6) will face Fraser (36-14) in the title game.

Bedford coach Jodi Manore, who has guided the Mules to three state titles (1998, 2001, 2005) during the past 17 seasons, previously suffered defeats in the semifinals to East Kentwood in 1990, 2000 and 2004.

Manore expected the meeting with their longtime nemesis to be challenging, but that doesn't lessen the blow from the latest defeat to the Falcons.

"It's tough because these seniors, they've been around the program," she said. "But I couldn't be any more proud of them because they've all been great kids all the way through, and there have been some tough times.

"Sometimes it just doesn't go according to the script."

Bedford (79-4) bounced back after losing the first game to take the second and third games. The Mules appeared to have seized the momentum with University of Michigan-bound middle blocker Veronica Rood (19 kills) leading the way.

However, the Falcons, who split six games with the Mules during the season, made a complete recovery by jumping out to early leads in the final two games and went on to victory.

The Falcons opened the fifth game with a 3-0 advantage and never allowed the Mules to take a lead.

"At that point, we just said, 'We had to play the same way he had played all year,'‚óŹ" said East Kentwood senior Katie Vander Meer. "We had nothing to lose."

Lauren Jones, who produced 20 kills and 11 digs for East Kentwood, said they never felt out of the match.

"We never got down on ourselves and we stayed positive," Jones said.

Bedford setter Emily Fahrer finished with a team-high 17 digs, while Jamie Swick accounted for 14 and Stephanie Champine had 10. Lexi Leonhard and Tara Breske finished with 11 and 10 kills, respectively.

However, the Mules found scoring hard to come by against a Falcons team that proved solid on defense. Bedford registered one service ace compared to 13 for East Kentwood.

"They played well," said Manore, of the Falcons. "They're a well-coached team. It was two great teams going back and forth and it came down to rally scoring."

Leland (66-4) defeated Lenawee Christian 25-13, 25-15, 25-16 in Class D earlier in the day. Alison Budd recorded seven kills. Ashley Arquette had six digs for the Cougars (40-14-2).

Contact Donald Emmons at:

demmons@theblade.com

or 419-724-6302.



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