Battle Creek — Notre Dame Prep continued its impressive winning streak Friday night at Kellogg Arena, earning its 52nd consecutive win with a dominating state semifinal sweep of Fruitport, 25-15, 25-9, 25-14.
Notre Dame Prep (63-2-2) will play No. 3 Lake Odessa Lakewood (47-5-2) in Saturday’s Class B championship match at 4 p.m., looking to bring home the ultimate trophy for the first time since 2013.
No doubt, Notre Dame Prep is loaded with Division 1 talent in 6-foot-2 junior outside hitter Madeline Chinn, 6-0 junior outside hitter Natalie Risi, 6-1 senior middle hitter Gabrielle Shilling and 5-11 sophomore middle hitter Taylor Garrigan-Raiola.
It was Risi who put on a clinic in the opening set to set the tempo, getting nine kills and a hitting percentage of .900. She finished with 19 kills and a .486 clip.
“It really came from my middles because our middles have been drawing the blocks so that left us wide open and the right side was really open and that made us really successful,” said Risi, giving the credit to Shilling and Garrigan-Raiola. “I don’t think I’ve ever had that many (kills) before in a set, but it was a good feeling.”
Chinn had 13 of her 19 kills during the final two sets. She hit at a team-high .621 clip with junior Morgan Verheyen contributing 10 kills and a .474 hitting percentage as Notre Dame Prep hit .407 as a team with senior setter Lauren Burnick dishing out 46 assists.
“She (Burnick) was on fire today,” Notre Dame Prep coach Betty Wroubel said. “Kudos to our setter (Burnick) who kept giving her the ball, she had the hot hand and she saw the court really well. Our unsung heroes were our middles who kept drawing the blockers which gave us a seam which let them be successful and they executed.
“Taylor Raiola and Gabby Shilling, they’re the unsung heroes. They do all of that. They jump, they jump, draw the block and get no credit in the books or statistics, but they’re a big reason for our success.”
Lakewood defeated unranked Livonia Ladywood 25-21, 18-25, 25-17, 25-13 in the other semifinal.
“We are the underdogs, let’s not sugarcoat it,” Lakewood coach Kelly Rowland said of the title match. “They have three unbelievable attackers, but you know what, there’s nothing to lose for us. We are the underdogs and we just have to go in and play.”
Lakewood last won the state title in 2012, advancing to the championship match in 2014 and last year, losing to North Branch both times.
In the Lakewood-Ladywood semifinal, senior middle blocker Breanna Wickerink had 18 kills and a .516 hitting percentage with Aubrey O’Gorman chipping in with 10 kills and senior setter Kayla Sauers, 47 assists and 15 digs.
Ladywood coach Kathryn Chinavare was proud of her players, including junior outside hitter Madison Benoit (16 kills, 17 digs), junior middle hitter Madison Hudson (12 kills) and junior setter Monique Lamoureux (27 assists).
“I’m just beyond proud,” Chinavare said. “We just got a little outmuscled, but it happens. It’s the Final Four and we did things that nobody really expected us to do.
“I think we utilized our cut shots and we were tipping, just kind of played our game and that’s worked for us all season (in the first two sets), and then we just dug ourselves a hole in that third game and you can’t be down by over 10 points and expect to come back from that, not in rally serves, it’s just not going to happen.”
Ladywood finished 23-6-1.
“I’ve seen this type of potential the first time I walked in the gym at Ladywood,” said Chinavare who is now in her second year as head coach. “I knew that this year with this core group, like they’re all best friends, they all play so well together, that we could make a run, do some great things.”
Top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Bronson won its semifinal match in less than a hour, sweeping Calumet 25-16, 25-12, 25-13.
Bronson hit a strong .346 with Miss Volleyball finalist Kiana Mayer dishing out 36 assists, the majority going to Keona Salesman (16 kills, .552 hitting percentage) and Ashton Wronikowski (11, .429).
Lea Bjorn had 11 kills and 13 digs for Calumet (43-7-2).
Bronson (58-9-2) will face Laingsburg (41-17-3) in Saturday’s noon final.
Laingsburg defeated Wixom St. Catherine, 24-26, 25-23, 25-13, 25-23.
It was the first semifinal appearance for the teams. Six-foot senior Maya Ferland had 19 kills and a .375 hitting percentage and stepped up with the match on the line, contributing four kills to turn a 20-18 fourth-set deficit into the 25-23 win to close out the match.
Alex Randall had 15 kills, 15 digs and a .500 hitting percentage for Laingsburg, which also received 10 kills from Sophie Strieff and 40 assists from Grace Gregg.
St. Catherine coach Malia Gabel plans to get her team back to Battle Creek with junior outside hitter Payton Porter (14 kills, 14 digs), junior Emma Schlagheck (13 kills), freshman outside hitter Maddie Karn (12 kills, 11 digs) and junior setter Katie Groce (38 assists) all returning from this year’s 40-6-2 team.
At Battle Creek
Birmingham Marian def. Farmington Hills Mercy, 13-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-21
Novi def. DeWitt, 25-13, 25-11, 25-17
Final: 2 p.m. Saturday
Lake Odessa Lakewood def. Livonia Ladywood, 25-21, 18-25, 25-17, 25-13
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep def. Fruitport, 25-15, 25-9, 25-14
Final: 4 p.m. Saturday
Laingsburg def. Wixom St. Catherine, 24-26, 25-23, 25-13, 25-23
Bronson def. Calumet, 25-16, 25-12, 25-13
Final: Noon Saturday
Fowler def. Munising, 25-21, 25-18, 25-11
Plymouth Christian def. Rogers City, 26-24, 25-15, 22-25, 25-21
Final: 10 a.m. Saturday