Lake Odessa Lakewood has just one match left, and this one is for the state title.
The No. 1-ranked Vikings advanced to the Class B state championship by defeating Dearborn Divine Child in three sets (25-22, 25-9, 25-21) on Thursday night at Kellogg Arena.
On Saturday at 4 p.m. in Battle Creek, the team’s fate will decided.
“They have one more practice to get ready for, and they have one more step,” said Lakewood coach Kellie Rowland.
Awaiting Rowland’s crew is North Branch, which defeated Whitehall in four sets (25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 25-23) in the other semifinal.
“It’s wonderful to have a shot, especially with this group of seniors,” Rowland said. “They have made lots of sacrifices.”
A back-and-forth first set eventually went in the favor of the Vikings, 25-22. The Falcons had a lot of trouble containing Olivia Davis and Emily Kutch, who had a kill to end the set.
Lakewood had a much easier time in the second set. The Vikings scored 12 of the first 15 points on their way to a convincing 25-9 victory.
“We had to adjust to their timing,” Rowland said. “We did adjust, and that’s why the second game took off like it did.”
The team won five straight points on Kutch’s serve at one point, including one of her aces.
Dearborn Divine Child appeared poised to get back in the match in the third set, leading 15-14. But then Brooke Wieland went to work. While serving, she had four aces in the span of five points.
“Once I get on a roll, it feels good, and I just keeping going at it,” Wieland said. “I get the rhythm going.”
Her dominant serves sparked the Vikings to a third set win, 25-21.
Davis and Kutch led the team with 15 kills each. Wieland had six aces and 31 assists for Lakewood.
It will be the Vikings’ second appearance in the Class B state championship match. Lakewood lost 15-5, 15-13 to Stevensville Lakeshore in 1995 at Kalamazoo Central.
That was when the state finals were held in March at the conclusion of the winter sports season and prior to the switch to rally scoring, which took place in 2005.
Prior to that year, a team had to be serving to score a point. Since the advent of rally scoring in 2005, a point is awarded to one team or the other each time the ball is served.
North Branch, which is ranked No. 2 in the latest Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA) poll, finished runner-up in Class A in 2007 and in Class B in 2010. In between, the Broncos captured a Class B state title in 2009.
The Vikings defeated No. 6 Holland Christian and No. 3 Ada Forest Hills Eastern 3-2 in regional matches before topping Berrien Springs 3-0 in a quarterfinal on Tuesday.