Lady Rams win JV state championship

Varsity celebrates senior night with victory over EGR

Rockford and East Grand Rapids high schools jointly hosted the Michigan Water Polo Junior Varsity State Championship tournament on Friday and Saturday, May 7-8. Fourteen teams played tough through 24 games to earn a shot at the state title. Both Rockford and Troy went undefeated in the round robin preliminary games to face off in Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. championship game. Other contenders included junior varsity teams from Jenison, Grand Haven, Grand Ledge, Zeeland, Mason, Holt/East Lansing, East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills (green and white teams), Grandville, East Kentwood and Portage Central.

Rockford’s junior varsity girls water polo team celebrates their victory over 13 other teams in the Michigan Water Polo Junior Varsity State Championship tournament. Photo by KANDI JEZAK

From start to finish, the Lady Rams dominated the undefeated Troy team, winning the state title with an 8-1 victory. Freshman goalie Ellie Raymond had nine saves and one assist against the very strong, quick Troy team. Freshman Adrianna Craft led the Lady Rams with three goals and seven steals. Sophomore Sarah Smith scored two goals and had three steals. Marie Siegel, Maddie Levine and Morgan Longberg each scored a goal. Aliana Smith and Morgan Lipe also contributed with an assist.

To get to the finals, the Lady Rams defeated Holt/East Lansing 13-4 and Mason 13-3 Friday night, and Grandville 14-3 and Zeeland 9-1 Saturday morning.

Coach Katie Clarin complimented her team, noting, “These girls played tough and never let up even through five games. We are very proud of their performance and the improvements throughout the season. We have a lot of talent and depth on this team and it has been a privilege to coach them.”

On Thursday, May 6, the JV and varsity teams paid tribute to their five graduating seniors, Natalie Beeg, Ashley Gremel, Amanda Johnson, Holly Nauta, and Christina Weston. The evening began with a pre-game ceremony in which Head Coach Scott Voltz complimented the seniors on their leadership and serving as solid role models for their younger teammates.

The Rams then went on to dominate East Grand Rapids, winning 12-6. All five seniors had a key role in the win. Gremel played strong offense and defense with three goals, three assists and four steals. Weston also had three goals and two assists. Both Beeg and Nauta had a goal and three steals. Johnson also scored on a sweet upper corner shot. Juniors Taylor Downs, Brandi Fase and Tiffany Elenbaas followed their lead, with Downs scoring one goal, two assists and two steals. Fase had one goal and two steals. Elenbaas was tough in goal with 13 saves. Sophomore Casey Wolfer also had a goal, an assist and a steal.

Coach Voltz noted that the team’s continual improvement will bode well for the playoffs. Districts will be held May 14-15, at East Grand Rapids, followed by regionals at East Kentwood May 21-22.

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