CLASS D GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Second-ranked Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes slams Leland, advances to first state final
BY DAN STICKRADT
BATTLE CREEK — Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes didn’t let the fact that the school was playing in the Final Four for the first time since 2000 effect it in the end Thursday night.
The second-ranked Lakers swept sixth-ranked Leland, 25-21, 28-26 and 25-21, to advance to its first state title game in girls volleyball.
Our Lady of the Lakes’ award? Top-ranked Battle Creek St. Phillip, which swept ninth-ranked Crystal Falls Forest Park, 3-0, in the other semifinal Thursday night at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
“We didn’t seem to be that nervous (beforehand), although we didn’t play well in parts of the first two games. But I thought we played better as the night went on,” said WOLL coach Stephanie Swearingen. “We’ll need to come out stronger against (St. Phillip).”
The Lakers (41-5-6) will face St. Phillip at 10 a.m. Saturday and try to play giant killer in order to win its first crown. They will have to dethrone the best Class D has to offer — as St. Phillip is truly the queens of the court, having reached the Final Four 19 times in 20 years while going 18-8 in state title games dating back to 1979.
“We know that. We know about their history,” said Swearingen. “We didn’t even think about that when we played (Leland). We just wanted to go out there and play our best and try to get to the finals. We did a great job coming back in the second set and that gave us momentum. Going up 2-0 was big.”
After taking the first game by four points, WOLL trailed 19-9 in Game 2 and found itself down 25-24 in Game 2 before staging a comeback to take the set (28-26). The Lakers led 10-5 early in Game 3 and the closest Leland came was 12-11. WOLL finished off the Comets in the end.
Kali Bagley supplied 28 assists, five digs and four aces for the Lakers. Devon Velent chipped in with eight kills and three aces, Courtney Wightman contributed 10 kills and five of her team’s 21 aces, and Allison Samulon had six kills for Our Lady of the Lakes.
Noa Yaakoby slammed 11 kills and nine to lead Leland (33-15-7). Caitlin McKee added 23 assists and five aces for the Comets, who fell short of making their seventh appearance in the Class D finals.