Saline Volleyball Battle Creek Bound
It had been 38 years since Saline volleyball reached the state semifinals, but that streak is over after the Hornets beat Gull Lake in four sets 2-16, 25-13, 23-25, 25-22 in Mason Tuesday night.
The quarterfinal win moves the Hornets to the D1 semifinals where they will meet second-ranked Northville Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.
Saline and Northville met once earlier this season at the Power Series with the Hornets coming out on top in the close three set match 26-24, 19-25, 15-13.
Against Gull Lake the Hornets started strong behind the net play of Catherine Flaharty in the first set.
Flaharty was a force at the net with several kills in the opening set that saw Saline jump out to a quick 6-1 lead.
The teams played even after that, and the Hornets led 16-11, but Saline went on a 9-5 run to close out the first set with a kill by Anna Hesse.
The Hornets were all over the net in the second period with Hesse, Flaharty, Marie Laurio, and Addison Ashley relentlessly pounding spike after spike at the Blue Devils to take a 14-4 lead in the second set.
The only thing that kept Gull Lake in int was the stellar play of the back court that time and time again came up with digs to keep the play alive.
The Blue Devils made a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 16-11, but the Hornets answered with a 9-2 run to close out the set with a block by Beth Ann Ford.
Down 2-0, Gull Lake showed some life in the third set by building a 19-14 lead on the Hornets.
Saline battled back with a 9-2 run to take a 23-21 lead and looked to finish off the match, but the Blue Devils rallied with four straight points to take the fourth 25-23 and force a fourth set.
The fourth set saw Gull Lake take an 8-5 lead, only to have Saline answer to tie the game at 9-9.
Neither team could pull away until the Hornets scored six straight points to take an 18-14 lead.
The lead grew to 23-18, but Gull Lake made a last-ditch effort to stay in the match with a pair of points to cut the Saline lead to 23-20.
There would be no big rally this time by the Blue Devils as the Hornets close the match out with a kill by Flaharty to take it 25-22 and the 3-1 win.
Flaharty tied for the team high with 17 kill and added two blocks on the night to lead the Hornets.
Hesse finished with 17 kills, five digs, and two blocks, while Laurio had 14 kills, 17 digs, one ace, and one assist.
Ford was stellar at the net with eight kills and a team-high four blocks, while Ashley added six kills, one block, and three digs.
Laney Burns was all over the court for the Hornets with 55 assists and 10 digs, while Olivia Behen had a team-high 38 digs and two assists. Kate Fredericks chipped in with eight digs and one ace, and Cazzi Smith three digs and one ace.
The Hornets improved to 38-8-1 on the season will have a tough foe in Northville (46-3) in the semis. The other semifinal features top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Birmingham Marian (47-1) and third-ranked Grand Rapides Forest Hills Northern (44-4-1) at 4:30 p.m. with the Hornets and Northville following.
Photos by Mike Williamson