GIRLS VOLLEYBALL CLASS B SEMIFINALS: Top-ranked Notre Dame Prep downs No. 2 Wayland to reach first title game since 2007

   | Ashley Raymond

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BATTLE CREEK — Katherine Carlson saw some open space in the corner. Instead of just blasting it, she placed her kill perfectly to the open floor.

That was the game-clincher for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep Friday night at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena, where the Fighting Irish moved one step closer to their ultimate goal.

The top-ranked team in Class B for most of the season, Notre Dame Prep outlasted Wayland Union, 3-1, in the state semifinals to reach the state finals for the first time since 2007. The Irish were crowned state champions that season on the same floor.

“It’s so awesome,” said Carlson, an All-American as a sophomore and one of the many weapons in the Irish’s deep arsenal. “This was so much fun. It’s like a dream.”

Carlson, who finished with 24 kills and was 55-for-60 attacking, was able to end the ordeal that featured the top two teams in Class B with her perfectly-placed ball.

“I just saw the tip, saw the (corner) was open and hit it over there. I just can’t believe it,” she said of the game-winning hit.

Notre Dame Prep posted a 25-14, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23, narrow triumph over second-ranked Wayland (60-6-12), which was trying to reach the finals for the first time.

Notre Dame Prep will face fifth-ranked Grand Rapids South Christian, which swept No. 7 Cadillac in the other semifinal Friday, 3-0. The title game is set for around 7 p.m. Saturday night.

“It gets harder. There wasn’t an easy team here,” offered Notre Dame Prep coach Betty Wrubel of the Final Four featuring four of the top seven ranked teams. “You can’t get to the Final Four without a tough road. There are all great teams with great coaches. I can’t believe some of the coaches that are here and the talent that is here.”

Notre Dame Prep outlasted No. 3 North Branch in a five-set thriller during Tuesda