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GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Notre Dame Prep overpowers Divine Child to reach Final Four

| November 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.Stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

 

CLAWSON — Three years ago, Betty Wroubel had a feeling about some promising newcomers within Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s volleyball program. The veteran coach decided to take a gamble and keep four of those freshman on the Fighting Irish varsity.

Fast forward to this year and Notre Dame Prep competed in its third straight state quarterfinals round Tuesday night at Clawson High School, and cemented its second straight berth in the Class B Final Four with a 25-14, 25-12, 25-15 sweep of Dearborn Divine Child.

The top-ranked Irish moved to 57-5-0 on the season and advanced to the state semifinals at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena. NDP will face perennial power North Branch at 7:15 p.m. Thursday with a berth in Saturday’s title match on the line.

“I really sensed that we had something special a couple of years ago when the seniors were  freshmen,” admitted Wroubel. “It’s been so much fun watching them develop over the years. And here we go. We’re heading back to Battle Creek.”

Kathleen Carlson, named the state’s 2014 Miss Volleyball by the coaches association on Monday, slammed 25 kills and had no hitting errors to go along with 11 service points, three aces and 13 digs to lead the Irish’s vaunted attack. Libero Emma Kowalkowski had 22 digs, 21 serve receptions and seven service points, Bella Bucchi added 10 digs and seven service points, Erica Schwegman had eight kills and Cailtin Fitgerald chipped in with seven kills for NDP.

Ashley Knudson followed with 19 assists and Hannah Antosz picked up 15 assists and 12 digs as part of a balanced effort for the Irish, who are making their third trip to the Final Four in eight seasons. Notre Dame Prep ousted North Branch in a five-game thriller in last year’s quarterfinals, while North Branch defeated NDP in the quarters two years ago.

“We haven’t played North Branch this season, but we saw them in the quarters the past in this two years and we’re sure they will be gunning for us,” admitted Wroubel about North Branch. “They are always a strong team. This time we’ll meet in the state semifinals.”

Notre Dame Prep dispatched Divine Child in a little more than an hour to advance again this season. The Irish have been ranked No. 1 in Class B for most of the season and proved to Divine Child the reasons why.

“They are a very talented team,” offered Divine Child coach Sarah Schmitt. “I know they have Kathleen Carlson, Miss Volleyball. But it just isn’t her show. They have a lot of weapons.”

Notre Dame Prep lost some key contributors off last year’s state championship team, but have gelled behind the leadership of four fourth-year varsity veterans, including Carlson, Antosz, Knutson and Angela Adams.

“We’ve overcome so many things this year — so for us to be able to go back to Battle Creek is just a tremendous feeling,” smiled Wroubel. “This group of seniors is just phenomenal. You could see it when they came in that there was something special about them. We knew down the road that this group could lead us and they’ve done that.

“This is probably the closest group that I have ever had, and what this group has been able to accomplish with the injuries and the loss of players has been nothing short of great,” she continued. “This group continues to impress.”

Carlson added that the team’s goal since Day 1 was to get back to Battle Creek in order to defend NDP’s title.

“It’s been a great adventure,” said Carlson. “We’ve been working hard every day to get to our goal of getting back to the state finals. Our team chemistry and our passion for the game is paying off.”

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Category: High School, High School (M-Z), Most Recently Updated Stories, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Prep Wraps, Sport, Top Stories, Uncategorized, Volleyball

About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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