Whitehall volleyball players Autumn Christenson and Hope Rillema are joined by their parents and coach as they sign their Division I letters of intent to attend Michigan State and Morehead State, respectively. In the front row from left to right, Autumn’s
Whitehall had five of its six starters named to the all-West Michigan Conference volleyball team when the teams were announced recently. Hope Rillema, Autumn Christenson, Bailey Seeger, Jane Kuipers and Jenna Pesch received the recognition, just missing a clean sweep of first team honors.
Rillema and Christenson received the honors for the fourth season in a row after Whitehall romped through the WMC without losing a set to any conference opponent. The Vikings have only lost one set combined over the last two seasons in WMC matches.
The senior duo were also both named first team all-state by the Michigan Volleyball Coaches Association. Rillema was named to the all-state first team for the second time in addition to her third-team honors in 2010, while Christenson got her first such recognition after being named to the second team in 2011 and honorable mention in 2010.
“They will go down as two of the most dominant players ever in the WMC,” Whitehall coach Ted Edsall said of his senior duo, who recently signed letters of intent to attend Division I schools. “Pretty sure there has never been two players from the same team to be named all-conference four years in a row and have their team win the championship four years in a row.”
Christenson signed to attend Michigan State, while Rillema will go to Morehead State. Whitehall High School held a reception for the two players Thursday afternoon at the school library.
Christenson, playing her first full volleyball season after an injury-plagued first three years, was extremely impressive as Whitehall’s top offensive attacker. Christenson consistently led the team in kills during the season and played spectacularly during the playoffs, especially during the Vikings’ two regional matches and in the quarterfinal match at Cadillac.
Rillema continued her steady all-around play for the Vikings as a consistent force at the net and in the back row. Rillema was named a Miss Volleyball finalist in the state, only the second time in school history that Whitehall could boast such an honor. She was also impressive during the Vikings’ playoff run.
Seeger received all-conference honors for the second year in a row to close her career. She received the third-most votes for all-WMC recognition of all players in the league, behind only her two senior teammates.
“That tells you something about this senior class,” Edsall said.
Kuipers was named to the all-WMC team for the second time. The junior was impressive over the course of the season as an offensive player and emerged late in the season as a dynamic blocker, logging key blocks during Whitehall’s postseason run. Kuipers also stepped up impressively for the team as an offensive option during an illness that kept Rillema off the court through much of October.
Pesch received the all-WMC recognition for the first time after an impressive junior year as the Vikings’ starting libero. Pesch consistently led Whitehall in digs over the course of the season.
Receiving honorable mention all-conference recognition was Whitehall’s freshman setter Alyssa Myers. Myers played above her experience level much of the year and was instrumental in helping the Vikings to the Class B state semifinals in Battle Creek. Montague hitter Karlee Koetje also received honorable mention recognition after an impressive season. Koetje was the Wildcats’ leading offensive force over the course of the year, helping pilot Montague to the district finals, where it bowed out to state-ranked Western Michigan Christian.
Reeths-Puffer’s Danielle Casey was the other area player to receive all-conference honors, being named to the first team of the O-K Black all-league squad. Casey was a versatile force on the court for the Rockets, consistently posting high kill totals while also serving as a leading setter for Reeths-Puffer. The Rockets struggled this season, finishing fourth in the six-team O-K Black before losing to Grand Haven in their district opener.