Norfolk Catholic and Wayne made quick work of their Mid-State Conference semifinal opponents on Tuesday at the Norfolk Catholic Activities Center.
The host Knights began the evening with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-10 beatdown of Battle Creek before the Blue Devils crushed Guardian Angels Central Catholic 25-15, 26-24, 25-14.
Norfolk Catholic coach Michaela Bellar said her team came out fired up and ready to play. "We got off to a good start which I think gave us a little confidence and we kept that rolling," she said.
Norfolk Catholic scored nine of the match's first 10 points and Battle Creek coach Cody Wintz tipped his hat to the Knights. "Norfolk Catholic didn't give us any freebee points. They got a lot of touches at the net and it seemed like it got in our girls' heads and we shut down," he said.
Norfolk Catholic led by as many as 12 points in the first set, but the Bravettes made a run to cut it to five. A BriAnna Zohner kill pulled BC to within 17-12.
But Norfolk Catholic quickly responded by increasing its advantage to eight and Channatee Robles ended the set with a kill from the back row.
"I thought Channatee had a good game," Bellar said. "She had a lot of defensive ups that we kind of take for granted at times. She doesn't have the hardest swings at certain times; she just places the ball really well."
Battle Creek didn't enjoy a single lead all night, but it played its best volleyball in the second set, staying within striking distance.
A Renee Brummels block pulled the purple and gold to within 16-12, but Norfolk Catholic scored five of the next six points that included two Avery Yosten kills to put the Knights on top 21-13 en route to a 25-20 win.
Then in the third set, with Norfolk Catholic leading 1-0, Marshall served the first of eight straight points that included an ace, two Mary Fennessy blocks, two Fennessy kills and a block and two kills from Robles.
"They didn't have any service errors and very few hitting errors," Wintz said. "They got us out of system a lot and got us flustered and we didn't respond."
Bellar praised Marshall for her tough, consistent serve. "She had 20-some serves and only one miss. That's huge. It keeps the momentum rolling.
"Coach is always telling us who to serve to and that really helps a lot, and staying focused," Marshall said.
"We switched up our starting rotation in set three to try to get our front row a different matchup but we still started down 9-0," Wintz said.
Fennessy took over the third set, recording five kills and four solo blocks in the set alone.
"We talked on the bench as a team (between the second and third sets), just going out and finishing the game strong and playing really well together," Fennessy said. "We focused on playing as a team and everybody doing their rolls and all around it was a great team effort."
Battle Creek mustered just 10 points in the entire third set as the Knights put the finishing touches on the sweep.
Bellar has been pleased with her team's performances in wins the last two nights over Crofton and Battle Creek and looked forward to Thursday night's final.
"It's conference tourney and I always tell the girls, our conference is tough," Bellar said. "We always have to show up and be ready to play. Our goal was to get to the championship and now our goal is to win the championship and hopefully we can do that on Thursday."
On the other side of the net, Wintz looked forward to Thursday for a different reason. "That's highly disappointing that we weren't able to compete a little bit better. I can take a loss but when you don't show any competitiveness in a loss, that's extremely disappointing.
"We have to show some toughness (on Thursday) and come out strong and understand that when points go the other team's way, the set isn't over, that the set is played to 25 and we have to play it one point at a time."
Norfolk Catholic will face Wayne for the conference crown on Thursday right after Battle Creek and Guardian Angels square off for third place.
NORFOLK CATHOLIC DEFEATS BATTLE CREEK 25-19, 25-20, 25-10
BATTLE CREEK (19-8): Paytyn Taake 1s; Lily Knull 6k; Zoey Reeves 1a; Kenna Pochop 3k, 1s; BriAnna Zohner 14k; Kaitlyn Pochop 22s; Reagan Brummels 2k; Renee Brummels 3b; Payton Kersten 2s, 1b.
NORFOLK CATHOLIC (20-7): Carly Marshall 30s, 2a; Mary Fennessy 8k, 4b; Addison Corr 7k, 1s, 1b; Allison Brungardt 2k, 4s; Avery Yosten 6k, 1a, 1b; Channatee Robles 16k, 1s, 1a, 1b.
WAYNE DEFEATS GUARDIAN ANGELS CENTRAL CATHOLIC 25-15, 26-24, 25-14
WAYNE (22-7): Kiara Krusemark 1k, 39s; Kate Hill 1k; Emily Longe 9k; Sydney Redden 1k, 3s, 1a; Lauren Pick 26k, 1a, 2b; Mady Sievers 4k; Reagan Backer 2a; Rubie Klausen 3k, 1s, 1a.
GUARDIAN ANGELS CENTRAL CATHOLIC (13-9): Reese Throener 1k; Sophie Hass 7k, 1s, 1a; Mean Plagge 21s, 3a, 1b; Evelyn Wooldrik 5k, 2b; Taylor Timmerman 7k, 1b; Greta Wooldrik 4k; Kelsy Steffen 1a; Isabel Hass 1s.