Notre Dame Prep's volleyball season ends in Division 2 state championship

By: Zachary Manning | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 17, 2018

 Notre Dame Prep senior Maria Famularo goes up to hit the ball in the Division 2 state championship match against Grand Rapids Christian. Famularo had 14 digs and 14 assists in the match.

Notre Dame Prep senior Maria Famularo goes up to hit the ball in the Division 2 state championship match against Grand Rapids Christian. Famularo had 14 digs and 14 assists in the match.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

BATTLE CREEK — In a highly anticipated Division 2 volleyball state championship matchup between No. 1 Grand Rapids Christian and No. 2 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, it was the Eagles that came out on top Nov. 17 at Kellogg Arena.

Even though the Irish lost in straight sets, they had opportunities to fight back into the match. However, every time Prep got close, the Eagles had an answer.

Prep coach Betty Wroubel said that the Eagles’ offense was quicker than some of the other teams they had played and when Grand Rapids Christian took an early lead on her team, it added pressure.

“Every time we started to make a little bit of a run, we had an unforced error that gave them the ball back,” Wroubel said. “I’m so proud of our kids. We’ve had an awesome season.”

Offensively, Prep went to its stars to find a spark. Senior Natalie Risi and Miss Volleyball Maddy Chinn finished the match with a combined 31 kills and 21 digs.

Errors were a problem for the Irish, as they committed 17 in the match. Wroubel noted that soft contact led to a lot of kills for the Eagles and her team's inexperience caused some hesitation, which led to some mishits and allowed some balls to fall.

“I think we could match them hit for hit, but we didn’t play as well defensively as we should’ve and could have, and normally do. When you don’t play good defense, you don’t win championships,” Wroubel said.

With the loss, Prep finishes the season with a 64-6 overall record, but after the game, Wroubel emphasized just how much her seniors meant to her.

Risi, Chinn and Maria Famularo will all be gone after this season and Wroubel got emotional talking about what kind of legacy they will leave, not only with her, but with the school.

“They’ve just always been about the team. Never afraid to work hard. They play hard for the green and gold, as I like to say,” Wroubel said. “To lose those three, with that kind of an attitude, is going to be monumental to replace. Their skill is one thing, but their attitude, their work ethic, their leadership, I don't know where we're going to get that from.”

Grand Rapids Christian ended the season with a 46-5 record and didn’t lose a set in the tournament.

“There’s really nothing like it,” Eagles coach Tiffannie Gates said. “I’ve been doing this for, like, 13 years, and I’ve come close, but to be able to not only win, but win in the way we did, is an amazing feeling.”