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Spikers fall in semi-finals of Panther Crossover Classic

October 19, 2011 - The varsity volleyball squad hit the road and traveled across the state to participate in the annual West Ottawa Panther Crossover Classic on Saturday, Oct. 22.

After struggling early, the Wildcats would pull together and make a run to the semi-finals of the event before losing in three sets to Grand Ledge.

In pool play, the Wildcats managed a 3-3 record, which seeded them ninth in the gold division.

"We continued to struggle and commit errors that were very uncharacteristic of them," varsity head coach Kristi McDevitt said. "Balls were dropping between two players and the offense struggled to make solid contact with the ball."

Matched up against Traverse City Central in the first round of the playoffs, the Wildcats finally got going and defeated Central in three sets.

"Everyone finally stepped up again both defensively and offensively and the squad resembled a team hungry to win," McDevitt said.

Sophomore Darien Bandel led the Wildcat attack with 12 kills in the match.

Facing former Flint Metro League foe Fenton, Bandel again came up big and she connected for 14 kills to lead the Wildcats to a three set victory over the Tigers. Senior captains Katie Bearse and Lindsey Leppek each had five and six kills respectively, while seniors Lindsey Keenist, Olivia Krause and Maggie Rourke led a defense that gave the Tigers fits all match.

However, their run would end in the semi-finals following a three-set loss to Grand Ledge.

"I would label today as a huge success," McDevitt said. "We were the underdog going into the playoffs and knocked off two teams that were ranked higher than us. That gives me hope that we aren't going to back down when we are at a disadvantage."

The Wildcats have two more opportunities to sharpen their skills before district play begins next week. They travel to Utica Ford II on Wednesday, Oct. 26 before participating in the Fenton Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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