Battle Creek — Lake Odessa Lakewood used its size advantage to pound out a 25-17, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20 Division 2 semifinal victory over No. 5 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep on Friday night at Kellogg Arena.
Aubrey O’Gorman, a 6-foot-3 junior middle blocker and Michigan State commit, set the tone with six kills and a .500 hitting percentage in the first-set win and didn’t let up, finishing with a match-high 28 kills and .511 average.
And O’Gorman had a lot of help from her younger sister, 6-2 sophomore right side hitter Maradith O’Gorman, who had 20 kills to help put Lakewood (40-12) in the title match for the third time in the last four years.
Lakewood, 40-12 and ranked No. 2, last won a state championship (Class B) in 2012, and lost to Notre Dame Prep in the 2017 Class B title match and to North Branch in the 2016 championship match.
Lakewood second-year head coach Cameron Rowland said last year’s semifinal loss — a sweep at the hands of Grand Rapids Christian which went on to beat Notre Dame Prep for the title — led to a number of players improving to get to this point.
“She went 8 (kills) 8 (errors) in how many attempts last year and hit zero (.000 hitting percentage) and tonight she went 28, 4, 47 and hit .511, so I think last year’s match told Aubrey that she wasn’t good yet, and that’s word we use all the time … yet,” Rowland said of Aubrey O’Gorman. “She knew if ‘I want to do this I have to get better.’ She’s going to MSU and she knew she had to get better.”
Aubrey O’Gorman certainly wanted a rematch with Grand Rapids Christian, putting up a bracket in her locker this summer, then working hard every day to do her part to get back to Battle Creek for the opportunity.
“I have a bracket hung up in my locker and I wrote Grand Rapids Christian and Lakewood in the finals in the first week," she said. "And I think talking about that all the time gives us something to look forward to and I think that we worked hard enough in the off season, and at the beginning of the season we see some of the toughest teams in the state, and I think that definitely prepares us to let us know that we will be in the final and competing against Grand Rapids Christian.”
Aubrey O’Gorman will get her wish as No. 1 Grand Rapids Christian (45-3) swept No. 6 Kingsley (58-8-3) in a semifinal Friday night, 25-21, 25-14, 25-10.
Notre Dame Prep (48-11-2) made Lakewood nervous when it won Set 3 and pulled even at 16 in Set 4 to try and force a fifth and deciding set, but it never materialized.
“Our youth was a little bit of a difference today and we didn’t play as well as we usually do,” Notre Dame Prep coach Betty Wroubel said. “It’s a big stage to come here. The kids played hard and I’m really proud of their efforts. We didn’t play our A game today.
“I met with a couple of my players over the summer time and I’m not so sure they were convinced that we could be here. I just thought it was just going to be a different way, not with bangers at the net, but with great defense. I knew we had some good defenders and that we could build the offense and we built that part of the game as the season went on. They played their hearts out.”
Notre Dame Prep lost tremendous size from last year’s runner-up team, including Miss Volleyball winner in 6-3 Maddy Chinn, as well as 6-0 outside hitter Natalie Risi.
Still, Notre Dame Prep had some firepower in 5-10 sophomore outside hitter Aly Borellis (20 kills, 18 assists) and 5-11 senior captain Emily Mohr.
When asked what the mindset was when Notre Dame Prep pulled even at 16 in Set 4, Mohr replied: “I felt, ‘We got this,’” Mohr said. “Everyone has to be all in and play for the girl next to you and if anyone is having a bad play, shake it off. We really don’t look at the score until that final whistle blows.”
In Grand Rapids Christian's sweep of Kingsley, 6-0 junior outside hitter Addison VanderWeide had 19 kills and a .350 hitting percentage to lead Christian which hit .378 as a team and had 28 assists and 15 digs from senior setter Jordyn Gates, a Miss Volleyball finalist who will play next year at Arkansas.
When asked if she talked about defending the title, Grand Rapids Christian coach Tiffanie Gates said: “We don’t talk about defending, we’re always chasing.”
13 kills and a .367 hitting percentage as Schoolcraft hit a sizzling .342 as a team, with Morris contributing seven kills with a .500 hitting percentage, and Schuppel six kills with a .429 hitting clip. Junior setter Kayla Onken finished with 28 assists.
All semifinals and finals at Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek
Mendon def. Southfield Christian, 27-25, 17-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-13
Leland def. Rudyard, 25-21, 25-14, 25-15
Final: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Lowell def. Lake Orion, 17-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-15
Farmington Hills Mercy def. Ann Arbor Skyline, 25-13, 25-15, 25-15
Final: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Schoolcraft def. Saginaw Valley Lutheran, 25-10, 25-11, 25-12
Monroe St. Mary C.C. def. Beaverton, 25-20, 25-17, 25-7
Final: Saturday, noon
Lake Odessa Lakewood def. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 25-17, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20
Grand Rapids Christian def. Kingsley, 25-21, 25-14, 25-10
Final: Saturday, 4 p.m.