Volleyball roundup: Novi’s Cummings glad to be in semis
Battle Creek — Another trip to Battle Creek for the right to defend the Class A championship has lessened the blow of finishing as the Miss Volleyball runner-up for Novi senior outside hitter Ally Cummings.
Cummings, a 5-foot-11 Valparaiso commit, finished second Monday to Michigan State-bound outside hitter Meredith Norris of Corunna in the closest voting (160-159) in Miss Volleyball award history.
On Tuesday, Cummings helped Novi earn a quarterfinal sweep over Birmingham Marian while Norris and Corunna lost a Class B quarterfinal to Cadillac.
Novi, 52-1 and ranked No. 1 from wire-to-wire, will play Fenton (46-5-3) in a semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Kellogg Arena. Rockford (47-8-1) will face Temperance Bedford (56-13-3) at 7:15. The winners play for the state championship at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Novi defeated Romeo in last year’s title match and is 106-3 over the last two years.
“I knew the person who won and she’s an amazing person and I knew she deserved to win so it wasn’t like, ‘Oh my (gosh), I can’t believe I didn’t win’ because she deserved to win,” Cummings said of Miss Volleyball. “Obviously, I’d take another state championship over Miss Volleyball since it’s a team thing and it’s so important to win as a team.
“Our entire goal was to get back to Battle Creek and now that we’re there I think we’ll play even better.”
Novi hit at a .429 clip as a team in the 25-14, 25-9, 25-12 quarterfinal sweep of Marian with 6-1 junior outside hitter Abryanna Cannon hitting at .591 with 14 kills. Michigan-bound junior setter Erin O’Leary had 31 assists and Cummings chipped in eight kills and nine digs.
Defending state champion Bronson put on a dominating performance in a state semifinal, sweeping Calumet (40-11), 25-16, 25-16, 25-14, in a match that took just over an hour.
Bronson (49-9-6, ranked No. 2) will play No. 6 Brown City (45-9-5) for the Class C state title at noon Saturday.
After winning Game 1, Bronson trailed 7-1 in Game 2 before 5-10 senior middle hitter Jill Pyles took over, both at the net and while serving to spark the comeback win.
“Our intensity level was awesome, we were all excited to be there and just not getting (down) when they got big runs was important — we just came right back,” said Pyles, who had seven kills and eight of Bronson’s 15 aces on the night. “I just try to clear my mind and give it all the power I can to serve it like I normally do.”
Jean LaClair, in her 16th year as coach, said Bronson’s ability to battle back from deficits has been a key to its success all year.
“We play better from behind and I told them now we can start playing because we’re behind, just chip away a point at a time,” LaClair said.
And, Bronson had a big advantage fan-wise with the town located less than an hour away.
Allison Sikorski had 11 kills and Ashton Wronikowski 10 for Bronson, which received 30 assists from Kiana Mayer.
Hailey Wickstrom, a 6-3 senior, had 15 kills for Calumet.
Brown City came back from a 12-9 deficit in the fifth and deciding game, reeling off six straight points to close out a thrilling 21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 21-25, 15-12 victory over Adrian Madison.
Junior middle hitter Annie Schlaud was the catalyst during the Game 5 comeback, tying the game up at 12 with a kill, then slamming the ball to the floor to close out the match.
Senior outside hitter Becki Krause had 36 kills and Alexia Mason had 58 assists for Brown City. Senior outside hitter Courtney Benschoter had 23 kills and a .411 hitting percentage for Madison with Kiarah Horn contributing 56 assists.
No. 3-ranked North Branch came back from a 2-1 game deficit to defeat No. 5-ranked Buchanan in a two-hour semifinal match, 12-25, 25-17, 22-25, 25-19, 15-10.
North Branch (57-9), which won the state title in 2014 and lost in the championship match last year to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, trailed 13-10 in Game 4.
With needing to win Game 4 to force a fifth and deciding game, hitters Olivia Fike, Allyson Severance and Janel Ruhlman took over with Madee Miner setting them up. Senior libero Stephaney Fifield (31 digs) also played well.
“We knew it wasn’t over, you have to go point to point and we just kept going, made some plays and it worked out for us,” said Severance, who matched Fike for team-high honors with 14 kills. “It wasn’t a matter of making adjustments. We just started doing things better, passing was better, hitting was better, we were just working harder.”
North Branch coach James Fish liked his team’s chances in Game 5.
“We were very lucky today,” said Fish, whose team will face No. 1-ranked Lake Odessa Lakewood (53-5) at 4 p.m. Friday in the state title match. “They played better than us and we were the team that played apprehensive. You could see it and they brought their game to us. We had to fight for it and we did. We kept fighting and fighting — and I knew if we could just get to a fifth game because we’re pretty tough in fifth games, you know our team’s been here a lot and done some things.”
North Branch played at a high level in Game 5 with Severance’s tip opening up an 11-4 lead. A block from sophomore Allison Bryce gave it a 13-7 lead. Kills by Reese Ruhlman and Fike closed out the match.
“Fifth sets are insane, they are just crazy and I love them,” said Miner, who finished with 44 assists. “Coach Fish just let us have confidence that we could do it. I think that comes with being a senior-dominated team. We know what it’s about.”
Senior outside hitter Franki Strefling, an Eastern Michigan commit, had 23 kills for Buchanan (49-7).
At Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek
Novi vs. Fenton, 5:30 p.m.
Rockford vs. Temperance Bedford, 7:15 pm
Saturday's final: 2 p.m.
North Branch 3, Buchanan 0
Lake Odessa Lakewood 3, Cadillac 1
Saturday's final: North Branch vs. Lake Odessa Lakewood, 4 p.m.
Brown City 3, Adrian Madison 2
Bronson 3, Calumet 0
Saturday's final: Brown City vs. Bronson, noon
Rogers City vs. Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, 2 p.m.
Plymouth Christian vs. Leland, 3:45 p.m.
Saturday's final: 10 a.m.