Spikers seek titles at Kellogg Arena

Spikers seek titles at Kellogg Arena

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Spikers seek titles at Kellogg Arena

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Since 2007, Battle Creek has been the place for Michigan’s top prep volleyball teams to raise the state championship trophy.

That season and every year since, the hometown St. Philip Tigers have been one of the lucky four squads to claim hardware. Now, the six-time reigning Class D state champions are back among the 16 teams looking to finish on top, with the state semifinals and finals at Kellogg Arena this Thursday-Saturday.

Top-ranked St. Philip will face fifth-ranked Onaway in the Class D semifinals on Friday at 2 p.m. In the other Class D semifinal on Friday, No. 2 Mendon will face No. 3 Beal City beginning at 3:45 p.m.

St. Philip junior outside hitter Sierra Hubbard Neil has started on the Tigers’ last two state championship teams, and is excited about the opportunity to play in front of hometown fans again.

“It’s amazing because the fans help us emotionally,” Hubbard Neil said. “I get excited whenever I get a kill and I hear the crowd. It’s great because everybody gets to see us play and its a great atmosphere.”

The last time St. Philip lost in the state tournament was the 2006 championship match. Still, Hubbard Neil said the Tigers won’t be taking Onaway lightly.

“Every game coach (Vicky Groat) says we can’t go in like we know we’re going to win,” Hubbard Neil said. “Any team can be beaten on a given day, and we have that mindset. We have to stay focused.”

Semifinal action will kick off on Thursday in Class C action when No. 1-ranked Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central takes on No. 3 Concord beginning at 2 p.m. That match will be followed by 10th-ranked Traverse City St. Francis taking on honorable mention Unionville-Sebewaing at 3:45 p.m.

In Class B action on Thursday, No. 2 North Branch will face No. 4 Whitehall at 5:30 p.m., followed by top-ranked Lake Odessa Lakewood vs. Dearborn Divine Child at 7:15 p.m.

Friday’s Class A semifinals begin at 5:30 p.m. with No. 9 Grand Haven facing Temperance-Bedford, followed by third-ranked Macomb Dakota taking on honorable mention Northville at 7:15 p.m.

The state championship matches begin Saturday with the Class D final at 10 a.m., followed by Class C at noon, Class A at 2 p.m. and Class B at 4 p.m.

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