Battle Creek — Top-ranked Grand Rapids Christian left no doubt as to what school was the Division 2 champion Saturday, sweeping No. 2 Lake Odessa Lakewood 25-21, 25-15, 25-16 in a title match lasting just over an hour.
When Grand Rapids Christian coach Tiffanie Gates was asked about her team defending its title after a semifinal win Friday night, she replied: “We don’t talk about defending, we’re always chasing.”
And, now Grand Rapids Christian is a two-time defending state champ due to its great play, resulting in a .357 team hitting percentage, led by 6-foot junior outside hitter Addison VanderWeide (28 kills, .436 hitting percentage).
“We knew that we had a good core group returning and that there was a possibility that we could do it (repeat), but I just feel like it’s always an uphill battle because everybody is gunning for you and everybody gives you their best game like they have nothing to lose,” Gates said. “We’ve been in that position before where we’ve knocked top seeds out because we just played like we didn’t care, so we knew going forward we’d get everybody’s best, so it was really sweet (to repeat).”
So, how important was it to win Set 1?
“I think it was really important because we had a game plan of how to shut the (O’Gorman) sisters down,” Gates said. “Obviously, they got some great kills, but I think we did a really good job of slowing them down and that helped us get that first set, then the consecutive sets.”
The O’Gorman sisters, 6-3 junior Aubrey O’Gorman (11 kills) and 6-2 sophomore Maradith O’Gorman (10 kills) were limited to .135 and .172 hitting respectively for Lakewood (40-13).
Senior setter Jordyn Gates, a Miss Volleyball finalist and the coach's daughter, had 39 assists and 13 digs for Grand Rapids Christian which finished 46-3.
“I can’t put into words how I feel right now, it’s a dream and I feel like I have to wake up,” Jordyn said. “Coming out and just showing them who we are and being able to finish on top as a senior is how we wanted to go out.”