By Jason Wesseldyk
FENNVILLE—Of course Saugatuck volleyball coach Sherri Austin wanted her team to win its Division 3 district final against North Muskegon on Thursday, Nov. 4.
But the fact that the Trailblazers fell 25-13, 25-21, 25-18 did nothing to diminish Austin’s opinion of her squad.
“I have coached many teams with more talent, but none that have worked harder and with more grit and perseverance than this team,” Austin said. “These girls left it all on the court tonight.”
Saugatuck ended the season at 18-19.
This season was definitely an unusual one for the Trailblazers, as they had to deal with a mid-season coaching change. Ross Such began was in his second season with the team, but had to set away.
Enter Austin, who had coached the team for several years before retiring after the 2020 season.
“The girls battled hard tonight against a tough and talented opponent,” Austin said.
Alyssa Ries paced Saugatuck with five kills and tied Haley Rivera for second on the team with nine digs. Rivera also had four kills and six assists.
Jacey Merkle (11 digs), Erin Moerler (four kills and seven digs), Jenn Schock (four kills, five digs and seven assists) and Kennedy Gustafson (four kills and six digs) also played well.
Saugatuck advanced to the district final thanks to a 25-14- 27-25, 25-20 win over Holland Black River the previous day.
“It was a battle in the second and third games,” Austin said. “We had to come from behind multiple times to end up on top.”
Gustafson was a presence at the net, racking up 13 kills and three blocks. Merkle had 21 digs to lead Saugatuck, while Rivera had 12 assists to go with 11 digs.
Ries added 11 digs and Schock went for seven assists and 10 digs. Elsa Nor led the way with four blocks.