ST. JOSEPH — A week after toppling Michigan Lutheran for a share of the BCS White Division title, the River Valley High School volleyball team was looking to tame the Titans again – this time to wear a Division 4 district crown.
But Michigan Lutheran was playing on its home court in the Nov. 6 championship match, and they defended it with a 25-22, 25-22, 17-25, 25-19 triumph to advance into the regional level of the postseason.
The Mustangs battled back from an 11-2 deficit in the opener to take a 17-16 lead, but a series of late attack kills by Stella Lyons, Brooke Gerlach and Natalie Ritter powered the Titans to victory.
Michigan Lutheran built up a 19-11 margin in the second set, and RV again raced back into contention, pulling within two points (23-21) before ML got the win.
Valley trailed 6-2 early in the third contest before kills by Lexi McCarty and Natalyn Heckathorn and an Ashley Strefling ace serve helped power them on to the 25-17 decision.
After trailing 13-11 in the final set, Michigan Lutheran finished on a 14-6 run as Lyons, Reese Maas, Ritter, Kaylee Scheffler-Schebel and Abi Marquis came up with point-scoring plays.
The Mustangs opened the district tournament with a 25-18, 25-14, 25-9 sweep of Eau Claire in a Nov. 3 semifinal match played at home.
Michigan Lutheran got past defending district champion New Buffalo 21-25, 25-13, 25-13, 25-12 in the other Nov. 3 semifinal.
The Bison beat Lake Michigan Catholic in a Nov. 2 first-round district match.
Defending state champion Battle Creek St.Phillip ended Michigan Lutheran's season on Nov.9 in a regional semifinal match.