GMC volleyball: East sweeps West for sixth consecutive victory

The Lakota East High School girls volleyball team is right where coach Grady Rogers wants it to be with the postseason just around the corner.

A 3-0 sweep of rival Lakota West was just one more sign of late-season progress.

Despite missing middle hitter Jada Bouyer because of a concussion, East survived a back-and-forth battle with the Firebirds in the first set Thursday and kept the momentum going for a 26-24, 25-16, 25-21 win on Senior Night at the Hawks Nest.

“Each day in practice we’re getting better and each game we’re progressing,” Rogers said. “Today we were missing our M2, but we adjusted well in the new rotation. They came out and played together, so I’m proud of the girls and for our program not to drop a set to our biggest rival. If we continue to play like this, I feel like we could compete with any team in the state.”

The Hawks (13-6, 7-1 Greater Miami Conference) have won six straight with one more week left in the regular season.

However, early in the match Thursday, it looked like East was going to have to fight to keep that streak alive. West (15-6, 7-2 GMC) got to game point with a 24-23 lead in the first set but lost setter Haley Bergheger to a wrist injury and East rallied to score the final three points.

A 7-1 run in the second set — with Grace Kathman and Olivia Gibbons serving — helped East take control and West never fully recovered.

“You saw West lose a little momentum in the second set, and we capitalized on it,” Rogers said. “We took care of the ball. Our hitters are being smarter and we’re not just swinging away, and we’re playing good defense.”

West bounced back with a better performance in the final set, which was more like the first with the teams trading points.

However, East took the lead for good at 17-16 on a point the Firebirds argued should have gone in their favor, and after West coach Tracey Kornau received a cautionary yellow card, the Hawks took the next two points to provide a cushion that held.

“Losing Haley was definitely a game-changer for us,” said Lakota West senior captain Maya Krause, who leads the GMC with 285 kills. “We got a little frazzled there in the second game, and we got it back together in the third and it was close again, but it just wasn’t enough because you can’t just bring it in the third game. I think we’ll just come back stronger next week and be ready for a run in the tournament.”

East’s hopes for a second straight GMC title remain alive with the win, but the Hawks would need help from Oak Hills, which plays conference leader Mason (18-1, 8-0 GMC) on Oct. 13. East plays two-win Sycamore that night.

“It’s going to be hard for another GMC team to beat Mason, so that’s not really our focus,” Rogers said. “We just wanted to come out here and worry about the things we can control, play our game and keep getting better. That’s what we did tonight. This is where we want to be.”

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