GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: North Branch knocks off No. 1 Notre Dame Prep in state semifinals

| November 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

BATTLE CREEK — There will be a new state champion in the Class B girls volleyball ranks.

Second-ranked North Branch knocked off top-ranked Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, the defending state champions, in a four-game affair Thursday in the semifinals at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena, 3-1.

North Branch won the first two games, 25-16 and 25-21, dropped the third game to the Irish, 25-18, then ended the contest with a 25-17 decision in the fourth and deciding game.

Notre Dame Prep, which won its second overall state title last season, ousted North Branch in the state quarterfinals last season a five-game thriller.  The Bronchos gained their long-awaited revenge in a game featuring the top two-ranked teams in the state and two of the best overall programs statewide during the past decade.

Laura Wilson had 24 kills, Victoria Severance added 14 kills and Olivia Fike chipped in with 12 kills for North Branch. Mady Ruhlman followed with 33 digs and Madee Miner had 53 assists for North Branch (60-7-4), which will face third-ranked Lake Odessa Lakewood at 4 p.m. Saturday in the state finals match.

Notre Dame Prep’s Kathleen Carlson, who on Monday was need Michigan’s Miss Volleyball, bowed out with a gutty performance which saw her go 68-for-72 attacking with 26 kills and 25 digs. Emma Kowalkowski added 23 digs while Ashley Knutson had 26 assists for the Irish (57-6-0).


North Branch has finished as the state runner-up three times — 2007 (Class A winter), 2010 (Class B) and 2012 (Class B). The Bronchos will go after the title on Saturday.

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