By: John Raffel
Rockford girls fall one win short of state title
Rockford started out the volleyball season strong and ended it almost as state champions.
The Rams were OK Red Conference, district and regional champs and then settled as state runner-up after falling to Novi 3-1 in the Class A title match.
Novi (53-1) won the first game 25-23 but Rockford (48-8-1) took the second game 25-20. Novi won the next two 25-22, 25-22.
Olivia Rademacher had 12 kills to lead Rockford while Cassandra Smigiel and Sara Majerle both had 11. Kendra DeJonge added nine while Zoe Anderson had six.
Hailey Delacher had 43 assists. Sara Majerle had four service aces and 10 digs.
“It was a great match,” Rockford coach Kelly Delacher said. “Novi obviously is a great team. They have a lot of big offensive weapons. We felt like we could come in and play some really good defense. We held them to a .142 hitting percentage, which I think is pretty good against a caliber team with their firepower. I was very happy with how we competed and kept ourselves in every single game. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Novi coach Jenn Cottrill left the match with a lot of respect for Rockford
“These close games make this so much more rewarding,” she said. “We have been pretty much cursing in the postseason, since at least the district finals and I am very proud of them for keeping their composure. We hadn’t seen the quick sets all season. We haven’t played a team with two dominant middle (hitters). We’ve defended teams with a bunch of outside (hitters). We did a decent job of slowing them down and getting the momentum.”
Rockford won a state semifinal game on Friday, Nov. 18, over Temperance Bedford 23-25, 24-26, 25-19, 25-12, 15-11. Rademacher had 18 kills.
Rockford's girls knew all season that 2016 could be something special.
“It's definitely been our team chemistry and how everyone this year is taking it seriously and working hard at every team practice, right from the beginning,” Rademacher said.
“We have real good chemistry,” Majerle said. “We all work hard during practice.”
“We work well on the court and off the court,” Hailey Delacher said in September. “I think we're capable of going really far in the state tournament. But we can't let up on anybody.”