By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Lake Orion will play for its first MHSAA volleyball championship Saturday.
The No. 2-ranked Dragons, previously Class A runners-up in 2011, downed top-ranked Farmington Hills Mercy in five sets in their Semifinal on Friday to earn a spot in this season’s Division 1 Final at Kellogg Arena.
Senior Paige Briggs – a Miss Volleyball Award finalist this fall – had 43 kills as Lake Orion (67-6) twice fought back from one-set deficits. The 43 kills are tied for fifth-most in one match in MHSAA history.
The Dragons won the fourth set 25-20 and edged Mercy (52-3) in the final set 15-13.
Senior Wren Macaulay had 53 assists and three aces for Lake Orion. Junior Jess Mruzik led Mercy with 27 kills and three blocks, and sophomore Julia Bishop had 44 assists.
Division 1: Rockford 3, Northville 1
The No. 7 Rams won the final two sets to return to the championship match for the second time in three seasons after finishing runners-up in 2016.
Seniors Lindsay Taylor and Emmy Webb split the attack, Webb with 21 kills off a .514 kill percentage and Taylor with 20 kills. Senior Emilee Karelse had 52 assists for Rockford (47-11-1).
Northville, ranked No. 8 entering the postseason, was led by sophomore Jenna Boksha’s 11 kills plus 10 digs. Senior Gabriella Fisette had 24 assists for the Mustangs (47-7-1).
Division 4: Mendon 3, Southfield Christian 0
Mendon will play for its first championship since 2001 after a Semifinal performance that improved the No. 2 Hornets to 48-6-3.
Sophomore Anna Smith led Mendon both with 20 kills and nine digs, and senior Aubrey Crotser had 31 assists.
Junior Emily Van Dyke had 13 kills for No. 4 Southfield Christian (27-10-3), and junior Caitlin Warnshuis added 10. Senior Rachel Stiteler had 20 assists. The Semifinal was the first in Eagles program history.
Division 4: Leland 3, Carney-Nadeau 0
Leland’s powerful seniors led the way as the top-ranked Comets earned a chance to win their first championship since 2015.
Senior Ella Siddall had 34 assists and five aces, while senior Hanna Elwell had 17 kills for Leland (47-10-1).
Carney-Nadeau, also playing in its first Semifinal in this sport, got a big defensive performance from junior Alanis Harris, who had 22 digs. The No. 9 Wolves finished 26-4-1.
PHOTO: Lake Orion celebrates advancing to the Division 1 championship match after Friday’s Semifinal.