Pontiac Notre Dame Prep will enter the state volleyball semifinals at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek Thursday night in a similar position to that of a year ago when it won the Class B championship.
Notre Dame Prep entered the 2017 state semifinals with a 51-match winning streak and swept all of its postseason matches.
This year Notre Dame Prep will carry a 53-match winning streak into Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal with Corunna. The Irish are led by 6-foot-2 outside hitter Maddy Chinn, who was named Miss Volleyball Tuesday, then helped her team sweep Detroit CMA in a quarterfinal later that night.
Grand Rapids Christian will face Lake Odessa Lakewood in the other semifinal at 4:30 with the Division 2 state title match set for Saturday at 4.
“This year’s so much different in a lot of ways,” said Notre Dame Prep coach Betty Wroubel, who has guided her team to state titles in 2007, 2013 and last season. “With Maddy and Natalie (Risi) in the lineup, both of them healthy, we’ve won. But we have so many young kids on this team that we really don’t know what to expect every night."
The Irish are led by three seniors -- Chinn; Risi, an outside hitter; and setter Maria Famularo.
“Last year’s team was so deep; we went 12 deep," Wroubel said. "We don’t quite go that deep this year, so whatever happens from here on out is icing on the cake. We’ve had a phenomenal year and capped it off with Miss Volleyball.”
Chinn, who will play next year at Purdue, has 628 kills this season while Risi, a Miss Volleyball finalist, had 19 kills while serving up eight points in a regional final sweep of North Branch. Risi had a team-high 17 kills and a .471 hitting percentage in last year’s state championship match with Lake Odessa.
“Losing a lot of seniors was kind of hard,” said Chinn. “We were really strong and had a lot of weapons last year.
“Coach Wroubel always said we, the three seniors, need to lead by example since we’ve been there before, whether it’s a pressure situation or just in practice. We know the routine so we had to lead by example and communicate as much we can on how to play Irish volleyball.
“I think we did a really good job of keeping that gym culture that we had last year. We want to promote it as much as possible and I think that’s why we’ve had so much success, and hopefully it will carry us all the way through.”
All matches at Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek
Unionville-Sebewaing vs. Traverse City St. Francis, noon
Monroe St. Mary CC vs. Bronson, 2
Final: Saturday, noon
Grand Rapids Christian vs. Lake Odessa Lakewood, 4:30
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep vs. Corunna, 6:30
Final: Saturday, 4
Mendon vs. Southfield Christian, noon
Leland vs. Carney-Nadeau, 2
Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Lake Orion vs. Farmington Hills Mercy, 4:30
Northville vs. Rockford, 6:30
Final: Saturday, 2