November 16, 2011

Volleyball: Ready, Set, MHSAA Finals!

Volleyball: Ready, Set, MHSAA Finals!

This weekend’s MHSAA Volleyball Finals field includes teams that seem to show up in the championship rounds every season.

Battle Creek St. Philip will be at Kellogg Arena, going for its sixth straight championship. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central also is a reigning champion, in Class C, as is Fruitport in Class B. And Marysville is back in Class B too, hoping to add its 10th MHSAA title.

That said, eight of the 16 teams still alive this weekend will be playing for their first MHSAA championship game appearance.

There will be plenty of star power – six of 10 Miss Volleyball finalists have helped their teams get to Battle Creek. And there’s even an undefeated team: Class D Crystal Falls Forest Park has won all of its matches but four, which ended in ties.

Below is a look at all 16 teams playing this weekend. Class A and D Semifinals are tonight, with Class B and C on Friday and all four Finals on Saturday. All four Semifinals and the Class A and B Finals will be streamed live at FoxSportsDetroit.com, with all of those games plus the Class C and D Finals then archived at MHSAA.tv. Click here for a full schedule.

Tickets cost $6 for Semifinals and $7 for Finals, with a Semifinal-Final ticket available for $15.

(NOTE: Rankings are those published by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association. Player statistics, except for Rockford’s, do not include Quarterfinals. East Grand Rapids' stats are through only 44 matches.)

Class A

CLARKSTON
Record/rank: 55-5, No. 3
Coach: Kelly Avenall, ninth season (302-102-18)
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-0 and 2-0 over No. 10 Birmingham Seaholm, 2-1 over No. 7 Temperance Bedford, 3-2 over No. 5 Canton (Quarterfinal), 2-0 and 2-0 over Class B No. 4 North Branch.
Top players: Stephanie Marani, 6-1 sr. MH (417 kills, .560 hitting %, 148 blocks); Brianna Frakes, 5-9 soph. S (1,127 assists, 106 aces); Rachel Dickerson, 5-9 jr. OH (420 kills, 460 digs)
Finals forecast: Clarkston graduated two players with all-state honors after last season, and still stormed out to a 36-0 start. Two of the losses were to Semifinal opponent Lake Orion, but Clarkston also beat the Dragons once. The Wolves have been building toward a historic finish – they’ve won five straight league and District titles and two straight Regional championships, and enter this weekend with their most wins and first Semifinal berth in Avenall’s nine seasons. Senior Madison Lightfoot is a significant presence at libero with 845 digs heading into Tuesday. 

LAKE ORION
Record/rank: 53-12-3, unranked
Coach: Bob Howey, sixth season (184-113-40)
League finish: Second in OAA Red
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-1 and 2-1 over No. 3 Clarkston, 2-0, 2-0 and 3-1 (Regional semifinal) over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 2-1, 2-0 and 3-2 (Quarterfinal) over No. 9 Macomb Dakota, 2-1 over No. 6 Richland Gull Lake, 2-1 over No. 2  Rockford, 3-1 over No. 10 Birmingham Seaholm, 
Top players: Liz Kalugar, 5-9 sr. OH (401 kills); Shannon Murdock, 6-0 sr. OH (551 kills, .329 hitting %, 64 aces, 71 blocks); Gwen Motley, 5-8 sr. S (1,195 assists).
Finals forecast: It’s fair to say Lake Orion faced nearly every elite team on the east side of the state this season, and some from the west side as well. Not mentioned among wins above are two over Class B No. 4 North Branch and another over Class B No. 3 Fruitport. Murdock earned an all-state honorable mention as a junior and teams with Kalugar for a dynamic attack, but Lake Orion also stands tall in the middle with 6-3 junior Sophie Murdock and 5-10 senior Angelica LeDonne – both have more than 100 blocks this fall. Senior libero Maddie Hutchison can be counted on in the back, with 912 digs and 60 aces heading into the week.

ROCKFORD
Record/rank: 58-8, No. 2
Coach: Kelly Delacher, seventh season (278-131-11)
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Red
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0 over No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 2-0 and 2-1 over No. 10 Birmingham Seaholm, 3-0, 2-1, 2-0 and 2-1 over No. 8 East Kentwood, 2-0 and 3-1 (Quarterfinal) over No. 6 Richland Gull Lake, 2-0 over Class B No. 1 Plainwell.
Top players: Murphy Heyer, 5-11 sr. OH (380 kills, 326 digs); Andrea Kacsits, 6-5 sr. MH (533 kills, .400 hitting %, 126 blocks, 106 aces); Halle Peterson, 5-9 sr. S (1,359 assists, 89 aces); Jessica Majerle, 6-0 sr. OH (361 kills, .308 hitting %).
Finals forecast: The Rams are loaded with veterans, with the 6-5 Kacsits and Peterson making the all-state first team as juniors, Majerle making the second team and Heyer coming off an honorable mention. Kacsits and Peterson both were Miss Volleyball finalists and have signed with Ohio State and Michigan State, respectively. Rockford also has seen many of the state’s top teams, with two more wins over Class B ranked Livonia Ladywood and Lakewood, one over Class D No. 1 Battle Creek St. Philip and one against Class A semifinalist Lake Orion.

TEMPERANCE BEDFORD
Record/rank:
65-10-1, No. 7
Coach: Jodi Manore, 27th season (1,614-269-45)
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference Red
Championship game history: Three championships (most recently 2005), four runner-up finishes
Best wins: 2-1 over No. 10 Birmingham Seaholm, 2-0 over Class B No. 4 North Branch, 2-0 over Class C No. 1 Delton Kellogg.
Top players: Emily Blank, 6-3 sr. OH (614 kills, .375 hitting %, 478 digs); Ellen Hays, 5-7 jr. L (1,157 digs), Emily Williams, 5-11 sr. OH (482 kills, 445 digs); Amanda Swisher, 5-5 sr. S (1,657 assists).
Finals forecast: The Kicking Mules won their 23rd District title in 27 seasons under Manore, who is second on the MHSAA list for volleyball career coaching wins. Her team saw many of the state’s best from multiple classes, also notching wins over Class B ranked Livonia Ladywood, Coldwater and Mount Morris and Class C ranked Monroe St. Mary Catholic. Blank was a Miss Volleyball candidate coming off an all-state first-team selection in 2010, when Hays made the third team.

Class B

EAST GRAND RAPIDS
Record/rank:
42-7, No. 2
Coach: Christine Grunewald, first season (42-7)
League finish: First in O-K White
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0, 2-0, 3-1 and 3-1 (Regional semifinal) over No. 8 Lakewood; 2-0 and 3-0 (Quarterfinal) over No. 1 Plainwell, 2-0, 2-0 and 2-1 over Class A No. 8 East Kentwood; 2-1 over Class A No. 2 Rockford.
Top players: Betsy Ronda, 6-0 sr. OH (394 kills, 205 digs); Maeve McDonald, 5-6 soph. S (831 assists).
Finals forecast: Ronda was an all-state second-team pick as a junior and leads a dangerous attack that has taken down many of the best from the Grand Rapids area. Although Grunewald is in just her first season as East Grand Rapids’ head coach, she previously was an assistant. She also won 230 matches at Lakewood from 2005-08, taking the Vikings to the Semifinals in the 2006 fall season.

FRUITPORT
Record/rank:
48-8, No. 3
Coach: Nicole Bayle, fifth season (233-46)
League finish: First in Lakes 8 Activities Conference
Championship game history: Two championships (most recently 2010), four runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 2-0 over No. 2 East Grand Rapids, 2-1 and 2-0 over Class A No. 8 East Kentwood, 2-1 over Class C No. 1 Delton Kellogg.
Top players: Lauren Hazekamp, 5-7 sr. S (1,299 assists, .362 hitting %); Breanna Geile, 5-10 sr. OH (374 kills, 28.5 blocks).
Finals forecast: The reigning MHSAA champion opened this season with 16 straight match wins and closed the regular season with an 11-match victory streak. Hazekamp also set last season’s team in making the all-state first team, and Geile made the second team in 2010. Fruitport has a number of solid hitters, and 6-0 senior Rachael Folkmier is a big block in the middle. Hazekamp was a Miss Volleyball finalist.

MARYSVILLE
Record/rank:
49-9-4, unranked
Coach: Kristen Michaelis, first season  (49-9-4)
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship game history: Nine championships (most recently 2006), one runner-up finish.
Best wins: 2-1 and 3-0 over Class A No. 9 Macomb Dakota, 2-0 over Class D No. 2 Plymouth Christian.
Top players: Haylee Booms, 6-0 sr. MH (700 kills, .328 hitting %, 110 blocks); Jessica Martin, 5-7 jr. S (830 assists).
Finals forecast: Marysville players should remember the program’s string of eight straight MHSAA titles from 1997-2004. Michaelis played in the midst of that run, graduating in 2000, and took over fully this season amid the hospitalization of longtime coach John Knuth. Booms is a dominating hitter and has continued to build on last season’s all-state honorable mention. Two more hitters, senior Samantha and freshman Alison Bastianelli, measure 6-0 and 5-11, respectively, and 5-8 junior Taylor Hornbacher also joins those two with more than 200 kills.

TECUMSEH
Record/rank:
54-3-1, No. 6
Coach: Kerry Watkins, fifth season (204-43-19)
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference White
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0 and 3-2 over No. 7 Coldwater, 3-1 over No. 5 Carleton Airport (Quarterfinal).
Top players: Kelsey Berrington, 5-8 sr. OH (743 kills, .354 hitting %, 597 digs, 125 aces); Hannah Galloway, 5-11 soph. MH (320 kills, 132 blocks, .396 hitting %); Carly Tillotson, 5-9 sr. S (1,471 assists, 151 aces).
Finals forecast: Berrington made the all-state second team as a junior and is a formidable all-around player for a team that as a whole comes in with an impressive .312 hitting percentage. Tecumseh has won every game of its matches 41 times, and has just seven match losses total over the last two seasons.

Class C

CHARLEVOIX
Record/rank:
49-4-6, No. 7
Coach: Elizabeth Shaw, 11th season (380-137-68)
League finish: First in Lake Michigan Conference
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-0 over No. 2 Morley-Stanwood, 2-0 over Class B No. 8 Lakewood, 3-1 over Class D No. 5 Leland.
Top players: Jenna Way, 5-7 sr. S (340 kills, .437 hitting %, 1,007 assists, 375 digs); Karley Pearsall, 5-10 jr. MH (263 kills, 97 blocks).
Finals forecast: Charlevoix is making its first trip to Finals weekend, and got there in part without giving up a game in six straight matches before Houghton took one in the Quarterfinal. Charlevoix saw most of the northern Lower Peninsula’s top teams, and also won twice against Onaway and four times against Pellston, both ranked in Class D.

DELTON KELLOGG
Record/rank:
47-10-1, No. 1
Coach: Jack Magelssen, seventh season (330-136-14)
League finish: First in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Championship game history: Class B runner-up in 2009.
Best wins: 2-0 and 3-1 (Quarterfinal) over No. 4 Bronson, 2-0 and 3-0 (Regional final) over No. 10 Mendon.
Top players: Adrianna Culbert, 6-0 sr. S/RS (861 kills, .504 hitting %, 385 assists, 132 blocks, 481 digs, 153 aces); Alisha VanderWoude, 6-1 jr. MB (235 kills, 136 blocks); Andrea Polley, 5-6 sr. S/RS (261 kills, 399 assists, 395 digs).
Finals forecast: Delton is led by the winningest coach in MHSAA volleyball history – Magelssen has 1,803 victories total over 33 seasons – and a returning all-stater in the multi-skilled Culbert. She was a Miss Volleyball finalist and has signed with Colorado State. The Panthers play in a league with Class B schools, and saw a number of others ranked in both Class A and B this fall.

MONROE ST. MARY CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank:
47-6, No. 3
Coach: Diane E. Tuller, 14th season (450-172-50)
League finish: First in Huron League
Championship game history: Three championships (most recently 2010), one runner-up finish
Best wins: 2-1 and 3-0 (Regional semifinal) over No. 5 Riverview Gabriel Richard, 2-1 and 3-0 (Regional final) over No. 6 Adrian Madison, 3-2 and 3-2 over Class B No. 5 Carleton Airport, 2-0 over Class D No. 2 Plymouth Christian.
Top players: Sarah Brent, 5-11 sr. OH (445 kills, .345 hitting %); Cassandra Haut, 6-0 fr. MH (237 kills, 149 blocks).
Finals forecast: St. Mary Catholic comes in plenty prepared to defend its MHSAA championship with four of the top five hitters from the 2010 Final victory over St. Louis. Brent was an all-state selection as a junior, and juniors Taylor Vuich (Right side hitter) and Alexis Thompson (libero) also received accolades during the championship run.

MORLEY-STANWOOD
Record/rank:
56-4-2, No. 2
Coach: Robin Kozuch, 10th season (449-99-11)
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association
Championship game history: Class C champion in 2007.
Best wins: 2-0 and 3-0 (Regional semifinal) over No. 8 Beal City, 2-1 over Class B No. 2 East Grand Rapids, 2-0 over Class B No. 5 Carleton Airport, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class A No. 4 Bloomfield Hills Marian.
Top players: Alexis Huntey, 6-2 sr. OH (845 kills, .405 hitting %, 703 digs); Bailey Cairnduff, 5-11 sr. S/RS (328 kills, 757 assists, 108 aces).
Finals forecast: Morley-Stanwood’s schedule was filled with Class A and B teams, and its record speaks for itself. Huntey, an all-state first-team pick in 2010 and 2009, was a Miss Volleyball finalist this fall and has signed with George Washington. Cairnduff earned an all-state honorable mention as a junior. The team has just five seniors, but those two and setter Melissa Holland anchor the starting lineup. 

Class D

BATTLE CREEK ST. PHILIP
Record/rank:
57-4-2, No. 1
Coach: Vicky Groat, 14th season (770-168-73)
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association
Championship game history: 16 championships (most recently 2010), eight runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 3-1 and 3-0 (Quarterfinal) over No. 2 Plymouth Christian, 2-1 and 2-0 over Class B No. 7 Coldwater, 2-0 and 2-1 over Class B No. 5 Carleton Airport, 2-0 over Class C No. 4 Bronson.
Top players: Amanda McKinzie, 6-1 jr. OH (583 kills, .480 hitting %), Sierra Hubbard Neil, 5-10 soph. OH (444 kills, .560 hitting %).
Finals forecast: St. Philip again is the favorite, going for its sixth straight MHSAA title and 11th consecutive championship game appearance. McKinzie and Hubbard Neil are returning all-state first teamers and Division I college prospects; McKinzie already has committed to sign with Virginia Tech next year. St. Philip also graduated an all-state setter last season, but junior Andrea Lesiow has stepped in and tallied more than 1,000 assists this fall.

CRYSTAL FALLS FOREST PARK
Record/rank:
36-0-4, unranked
Coach: Kim Bjork, sixth season (193-18-24)
League finish: First in Skyline Conference
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-0 over Engadine (Regional semifinal), 3-1 over No. 8 Pellston (Quarterfinal).
Top players: Audrey Sholander, 5-7 sr. OH (184 kills, 11 digs, 60 aces); Alexis Gussert, 6-0 soph. MH (279 kills, 67 blocks), Tanner Bartczak, 5-10 sr. MH (199 kills).
Finals forecast: Sholander and Gussert were all-state third-team selections last season, and with Bartczak give the Trojans a veteran and talented front line. The program has won league and District titles every season under Bjork, and Regional titles five times. But nearly as impressive has been this season’s near-perfect record – aside from tournament play, Forest Park has lost only two games, to Pellston on Tuesday and Kingsford near the end of the regular season.

DECKERVILLE
Record/rank:
25-12-4, unranked
Coach: Carl Krumenacker, seventh season (121-128-23)
League finish: First in North Central Thumb League
Championship game history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-2 over No. 6 Allen Park Inter-City Baptist (Quarterfinal), 3-2 over Carsonville-Port Sanilac (District quarterfinal).
Top players: Kaleigh Spaetzel, 5-10 jr. OSH (410 kills, 144 blocks, 357 digs); Jenna Varosi-Garavaglia, 5-3 sr. S (444 assists, 413 digs).
Finals forecast: Deckerville has won five straight District titles and three straight Regional championships, but has booked this trip to Battle Creek with a team that includes eight juniors and two sophomores. The Eagles closed the regular season on an 0-5-2 skid and lost the first two games of the District opener. But they bounced back to win their next four postseason matches in three games. 

WYOMING TRI-UNITY CHRISTIAN
Record/rank:
38-13-2, unranked
Coach: Christa Anderson, third season (87-41-4)
League finish: First in River Valley Conference
Championship game history: Class D runner-up in 2007 winter season.
Best wins: 3-2 over No. 5 Leland (Quarterfinal), 3-1 over No. 7 Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (Regional semifinal).
Top players: Alyssa Petrick, 5-8 jr. MB (671 kills, 98 blocks, 520 digs); Megan Petrick, 5-5 jr. S (998 assists, 90 aces, 91 blocks, 481 digs).
Finals forecast: More than half of Tri-unity Christian’s opponents were Class A or B schools, giving a team with only one senior plenty of experience heading into the tournament. There is some star power despite the youth, with Alyssa Petrick an all-state first-team pick last season and Megan Petrick a second-team selection. That lone senior, Anna Buffum, is the team leader in blocks (99) and second in kills (245).

PHOTO
Set it up:
Lake Orion senior Dana Schrauben sets up junior teammate Sophie Murdock during last week's Regional win over Bloomfield Hills Marian. (Photo courtesy of Terry McNamara Photography.)

 

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Geoff Kimmerly

Geoff Kimmerly joined the Michigan High School Athletic Association in September 2011 after nearly 12 years as Prep Sports Editor at the Lansing State Journal. His work also has appeared in USA Today and newspapers across the state, and he served as a state voter for The Associated Press.

A native of Frankenmuth and graduate of Michigan State, Kimmerly serves as the MHSAA's Media & Content Coordinator. Have some good high school news to share? Help us tell the rest of the state by e-mailing your story ideas to geoff@mhsaa.com.

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