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O'Gorman sisters too much for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in Division 2 volleyball semifinal

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Battle Creek – The O’Gorman sisters were just too much for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep to handle Thursday afternoon, resulting in Lake Odessa Lakewood’s 25-15, 25-13, 25-22 sweep in the Division 2 state semifinals at Kellogg Arena.

Notre Dame Prep veteran coach Betty Wroubel was thrilled to have her team playing on the big stage after a stoppage of nearly two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, Lakewood coach Cameron Rowland was also happy, noticing in pre-game warmups how 6-foot-2 junior Maradith O’Gorman (21 kills, 13 digs) and her older sister, 6-4 senior Aubrey O’Gorman (11 kills, .385 hitting percentage) were flying around, hitting the ball way above the net where that same energy from them wasn’t apparent a year ago.

The O’Gorman sisters will be playing at Michigan State with Aubrey moving in this fall while her sister has another year at Lakewood which will be going for its first state title since winning the Class B championship in 2012 Saturday afternoon.

“Tons of credit to our girls for how hard they battled to get here, everything they did their heart and soul, the start, the stop, the start, the stop, the restart, the re-stop, the testing, everything they did to get her and sometimes when your performance is a little bit off people lose sight of that, and this is a terrific group of gals, very talented and it’s very fun to be their coach,” Wroubel said.

“We knew we were giving up six inches to a couple of gals, maybe even a little more. We had a game plan to neutralize that, but it didn’t happen. We didn’t perform the way we were practicing, but they (O’Gorman sisters) are good ball players. They are going to Michigan State for a reason.

“Our block was just a tad late and that threw everything else off. They put the ball down and it was hard to get around them. They had a good game plan and they changed some things. They moved to different spots and they took our outside away.”

Maradith O’Gorman set the tempo by pounding the ball in the opening set, accounting for eight kills and a .533 hitting percentage while Lakeland (42-2) hit at a .444 clip as a team and Notre Dame Prep (38-10) at .050.

Maradith had seven more kills in the second set while Notre Dame struggled, having more errors (14) than kills (13) while trailing 2-0.

Libero Olivia Kowalkowski – Notre Dame Prep’s lone senior – had a pair of aces early in the third set to help her team to an 8-3 lead, but Lakewood came back behind the hitting of the O’Gorman sisters, along with timely kills from sophomore setter Skylar Bump (six kills, 30 assists, 19 digs).

“I knew that if we came out and served and passed well that we would be super tough to defend because of our size at the net,” Rowland said.

Kowalkowski was happy to have closure to a long season and equally pleased she had the opportunity to play in the Final Four at Kellogg Arena for all four years of her career, winning the Class B state title in 2017 over Lakewood, losing the Division 2 state title to Grand Rapids Christian in 2018 and falling short to Lakewood in the semifinals the last two years.

“I’m super grateful to have the opportunity to get closure on our season,” Kowalkowski said. “The result wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, but that doesn’t define our season whatsoever. I love coming to this arena, there’s a lot of history for me personally.

“We put a lot of hard work into this season and the pause was a huge burden on a lot of us, so I want to credit everyone on our team for their perseverance.”

Junior right side hitter Alyssa Borellis, a Mississippi commit, had six kills for Notre Dame Prep.

MSMCC earns sweep to advance to D3 final

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central knows what it takes to make it to the state championship match to play for the ultimate trophy.

MSMCC, which won Class C state titles in 2010, ’12 and ’14, earned an impressive 25-15, 25-14, 25-19 sweep of Beaverton (32-6) in a Division 3 semifinal Thursday afternoon.

Schoolcraft advanced to the title match when Saginaw Valley Lutheran had to forfeit due to having a positive COVID-19 case in the program.

MSMCC (38-2), which defeated Schoolcraft for the state championship last year, was led by 6-0 senior middle hitter Abbie Costlow who had 12 kills and an impressive .667 hitting percentage while Mikayla Haut (Fairfield University), a 5-11 senior outside hitter and Miss Volleyball finalist, had 14 kills, 17 digs and a .346 hitting percentage.

And, Costlow and Haut had plenty of support from 5-10 senior outside hitter Anna Dean (nine kills), 5-11 senior middle hitter Kylie Barron (five kills, .333 hitting percentage), senior setter Grace Lipford (20 assists), junior setter Kate Collingsworth (20 assists) and senior defensive specialist Jaydin Nowak (14 digs).

“This was one of the first matches where we actually came out strong in the first set which was good to see, I thought we played with a lot of energy,” said MSMCC coach Karen O’Brien. “We had momentum for the majority of the match and it was just good to see us play at that level.”

So, how impressive has MSMCC’s run been?

Well, MSMCC has swept all six postseason opponents, including Bronson – Class C state champions in 2015-17 and Division 3 state champs in ’18 - in a state quarterfinal match Tuesday.