Division 2 volleyball: G.R. Christian beats Notre Dame Prep to win first title
Battle Creek — Top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian put an end to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s 54-match winning streak, slowing down Miss Volleyball Maddy Chinn to earn its first state championship with a 25-19, 25-18, 25-21 sweep in the Division 2 title match Saturday afternoon at Kellogg Arena.
Grand Rapids Christian (46-5) had trouble reaching Battle Creek for a shot at the state title in recent years when it competed in Class A, but took advantage of the change in divisions this season to dominate No. 2 Notre Dame Prep, which won the Class B title last season.
Notre Dame Prep showcased the Big Three in Chinn, Miss Volleyball finalist Natalie Risi and senior setter Maria Famularo.
But, it was Grand Rapids Christian’s 5-foot-9 senior outside hitter Maria Bos and 6-foot sophomore outside hitter Addie VanderWeide who stole the show. Bos had 21 kills and a .362 hitting percentage and VanderWeide, 17 kills and nine digs.
“They are a very good team and they played well today,” Notre Dame Prep coach Betty Wroubel said of Grand Rapids Christian. “Every time we started to make a little bit of a run we had an unforced error that gave them the ball back.
“I’m so proud of the kids. We’ve had an awesome season. They played well. It’s an end of an era with these three seniors and that’s the saddest part.”
When asked what the difference was, Wroubel responded: “Their offense was a little bit quicker. Our middles are inexperienced and not able to keep up with them. They got an awful lot of kills off of soft stuff and we really tried to prepare for that. I think our inexperience caused the hesitation which let those balls fall or we shanked them and then we had to make great plays and gave them a free ball and then they could attack.
“I think we could match them hit for hit, but we didn’t play as well defensively as we should have and could have and normally do and when you don’t play good defense you don’t win championships.”
Grand Rapids Christian coach Tiffannie Gates came in with a good game plan to get the job done.
“Before we came out we just talked about no fear, just play aggressive, play to win and don’t try to worry about the outcome, just play hard,” Gates said. “That’s been our thing all year, just running a fast offense. I noticed Betty (Wroubel) moved Maddy to the right side to stop our outside hitters and so we did a good job of passing well enough to where we could run them out of the middle and avoid her big block for most of the night.”
Grand Rapids Christian played well defensively, limiting Chinn to 17 kills on .176 hitting and Risi to 14 kills on .244 hitting. Famularo had 14 assists and 14 digs for Notre Dame Prep (64-6).
“We knew that Natalie and Maddy were their big hitters and we just kind of tried to commit to them as much as we could without completely bailing on their other hitters,” Gates said. “We thought we would go with the odds and defend their outsides wherever they were, whether they were on the right side or the outside.”
Junior setter Jordyn Gates had 38 assists and 29 digs — one off the state record held by Bronson's Jordan Bell in 2009 — for Grand Rapids Christian.