GIRLS VOLEYBALL: Notre Dame Prep rolls Fitzgerald for first regional since 2008
BY DAN STICKRADT
PONTIAC — Thursday was anything but a thing a beauty for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. But who says that all championships are pretty?
The Fighting Irish played far below their standards, but still cruised to a 3-0 sweep of Warren Fitzgerald in a Class B girls volleyball regional final at Notre Dame Prep.
The Irish still dominated and trailed only briefly in recoding wins of 25-14, 25-6 and 25-9 and dispatching Fitzgerald in only 1 hour, 3 minutes.
It marked the first regional title for Prep (52-9-4) since 2008 but first for this group, a team that features five sophomores and four juniors on a 12-player roster.
“I thought we were off a little bit early on and maybe that had something to do with playing (a regional game) two nights ago. We just weren’t as sharp as we normally are,” said NDP coach Betty Wroubel. “I think we started to play better in the second and third games and we got everybody in, which is nice.”
Multiple unforced errors allowed Fitzgerald to hang around in the first game. The Fighting Irish slowly weathered the storm for an 11-point win.
In the second game, Notre Dame Prep took over with an 11-1 run to start and that was enough fuel to help the Irish roll in swift fashion.
The third game saw NDP hold leads of 5-1 and 7-5 before pulling away. A service point from Ashley Knutson ended the match.
Notre Dame Prep, honorable mention in the polls, lost in last year’s regional finals to Marysville with Wroubel’s youngest team. The group has matured by large measures this season, claiming over 50 wins.
“Those kids that made the early errors last year have really matured, and I go back and look at the regional finals last year when we lost to Marysville. That group of freshman really played big time and we’d lost three games by a total of seven points which was very tough. But I think from that point on, this group’s been very focused,” said Wroubel. “We’ve come a long ways. We are benefitting from their experience this season.”
Fitzgerald, which didn’t have any player on its roster over 5-foot-9 and had a hard time matching the Irish’s trees on the front line, advanced further than any other team in school history.
“I’m proud of them, we’ve come really far as a team this year,” said Fitzgerald coach Maria Marcotull “They left 110 percent on the court tonight so I can’t be mad. This whole season they’ve played great. They really did give it all they have. I had eight seniors this year, so it’s really tough saying goodbye to them. Each and every one of them stepped up. They were great leaders on the team. They had a lot of heart.”
Sophomore Katherine Carlson slammed 15 kills for Notre Dame Prep. Tia Carter had six kills for Fitzgerald.
Notre Dame Prep will host top-ranked North branch at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the state quarterfianls.
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)