'Hot Hand' Helps Romeo Land Class A Title

November 22, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – Romeo volleyball coach Stacy Williams didn’t feel comfortable Saturday until her team needed only one more point to win the MHSAA Class A Final.

That made sense for a couple of reasons.

At that point in the fifth set, Romeo led Novi by five points. That was much more comfortable than when the Bulldogs were falling in the third and fourth games after winning the first two.

But the most sizable reason for her brief moment of relief was 6-foot-1 junior Gia Milana – the “hot hand” and talk of this season’s Finals at Kellogg Arena.

Like she had 28 times already, Milana rocketed one final kill to give Romeo its first MHSAA championship since 1997 with a 25-23, 25-22, 14-25, 25-27, 15-9 victory.

The Bulldogs entered the weekend with five hitters tallying at least 147 kills this season and talked of a plan to spread the attack. But Milana had 19 kills in a three-set Semifinal win over top-ranked Temperance Bedford, and her 29 Saturday tied for sixth-most in MHSAA Finals history since the start of rally scoring in 2004-05.

“The plan from the beginning was to spread the ball out like usual. We like covering our middles, confusing their blocks, but today it was feed the hot hand,” Milana said. “The hot hand wins.

“I wanted (the ball) to go to whoever would put it away, because all I wanted was to win. But feed the hot hand. That’s what (setter) Lauren (Korth) did, and we got it done.”

Romeo (45-8-1) took those final steps this season after making the Quarterfinals in 2013. Friday’s Semifinal was the team’s first since 1999; the Bulldogs entered the tournament ranked No. 8 but dispatched the No. 1 Kicking Mules 25-14, 25-23, 25-9.

Novi – playing in its first championship match – was No. 2 at the start of the postseason and had beaten Romeo in a tournament final during the regular season – although Romeo didn’t have a full lineup for that event. The Wildcats finished 54-6-1 after making the Semifinals for the second time in program history.

Milana had six kills in the final set, her second-most of the five although the fifth is played to only 15 points.

She had only two as Romeo, leading 2-0, dropped the third set to Novi, which then won the fourth despite 11 Milana kills.

That had to be a good sign for Novi, which also had dropped the first two sets in its Semifinal win over Grand Haven on Friday before coming all the way back.

“We played pretty disciplined defense. We’d done our scouting. We had shot charts where she likes the ball,” Novi coach Jennifer Cottrill said of Milana. “She just hit the ball so high, and our biggest player is 5-9ish, 5-10 maybe. She’s just hitting the ball over the block, and it wasn’t just her. That team passes well and sets her the ball where she needs it.”

Novi’s comeback came in part on the arm of junior Victoria Iacobelli, who had six of her team-high 19 kills during the third and fourth sets, and the defense of senior libero Jordan Massab, who had nine of her game-high 23 digs in those games.

With three kills by Milana, Romeo opened the fifth set up 7-2. Novi pulled to within two of the lead at 8-6, but two more Milana kills and four Novi errors turned into the Bulldogs’ closing 7-3 run.

“The balls didn’t drop. Ones we though we were going to score on, they picked those balls up,” Williams said of the third and fourth games. “What we lost in the third and fourth games was that first touch, the first ball, but that last game we really started passing the ball and getting it to our hitters.”

Korth, a senior, had 43 assists to go with 11 kills, 12 digs and five blocks for Romeo. Sophomore Jodie Kelly added 13 kills and 11 digs.

Junior Paulina Iacobelli and sophomore Alyssa Cummings both added 14 kills for Novi, and freshman Erin O’Leary’s 47 assists tied for seventh most in Finals history during the rally scoring era. 

With so many key contributors on both sides expected to return, it would fair to anticipate these teams meeting in Battle Creek again in 2015.

“We have a lot of young players touching the ball a lot,” Cottrill said. “Just having this experience of being here and knowing what to expect will definitely help us. 

Click for full statistics.

PHOTOS: (Top) A pair of Romeo blockers wall off a Novi kill attempt during Saturday’s Class A Final against Novi. (Middle) Novi setter Erin O’Leary passes to a teammate. (Click for action photos and team photos from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.) 


NOVI IMPRESSES - Novi turned the tables in the third set against Romeo, winning in impressive style. Alyssa Cummings smashes the ball for the set point.
MILANA BRINGS IT HOME - Romeo captured the Class A crown in five sets over Novi, the winner coming on this kill by Gia Milana.
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2023 WISL Award Honoree Glass Continuing to Create Leaders On Court & Off

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 2, 2023

Hailing from one of Michigan’s smallest communities, Laurie Glass has made an impact that continues to connect all over Michigan.

But her impact on women’s athletics began long before a career that has seen the longtime Leland volleyball coach become one of the winningest in her sport in state history.

As a high school junior in 1976, she recruited seven classmates and a coach to form Leland’s first girls sports team – for basketball – and the same group then played volleyball that winter. She was a senior and major contributor when, during their second season, the Comets won the 1978 Class D volleyball championship.

More than four decades later, Glass is a Michigan legend in that sport – a winner of 1,218 matches with Leland and Traverse City Central and three Finals championships with the Comets. She’s also a nationally-recognized voice in volleyball and women’s athletics as a whole – and this year’s MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership honoree for those many and continuing contributions.

“Because I’m a teacher and coach, that’s my desire to help the youth be the best they could be. And if I can impact a coach or impact another district or program, that means I’m affecting more youth in a positive way,” Glass said. “So for me, it’s just the ripple effect; it gets a lot bigger when I’m starting little drops in other places. So I can affect the hundreds of kids that I’ve seen go through Leland, or I can impact the larger audience by impacting coaches or impacting kids in other places that can then impact other people. It allows me a wider audience for wanting to help young women to be their best young woman self in however way I can make that happen.”

Each year, the Representative Council considers the achievements of women coaches, officials and athletic administrators affiliated with the MHSAA who show exemplary leadership capabilities and positive contributions to athletics.

Leland finished 49-13 this past season and reached the Division 4 Quarterfinals. Glass has a record of 1,218-393-122 over more than three decades as a varsity volleyball coach, having led the Comets for a combined 29 seasons over three tenures, the first beginning with the 1989-90 winter season and later picking up with her most recent return for Fall 2010. She also coached Traverse City Central for four seasons beginning in 1991-92.

Glass passes the championship trophy to her team after the Comets won the 2015 Class D title.Glass led Leland to Class D Finals championships in 2002, 2006 and 2015, and runner-up finishes in Class D in 2014 and Division 4 in 2018 and 2019. She was named to the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association (MIVCA) Hall of Fame in 2006, and selected as national Coach of the Year in volleyball in 2014 by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association. She’s a three-time MIVCA Coach of the Year and was named Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA) Coach of the Year for volleyball in 2015. She also was a finalist for National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) national Coach of the Year in 2014. 

Glass has spoken multiple times at the MHSAA Women In Sports Leadership Conference and several times at the MIVCA Coaches Clinic, and among various other engagements was the featured speaker at the Nebraska Athletic Association Coaches Clinic. She will receive the Women In Sports Leadership Award during the MHSAA Division 1 Girls Basketball Final on March 18 at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.

“Laurie Glass is recognized most on the statewide level for leading one of the most successful volleyball programs in state history. But she is known among her peers most for the way she teaches not only volleyball but life skills to her athletes,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “Her leadership creates more leaders, be they the athletes who have the opportunity to play for her or the coaches who learn from her and receive her mentorship.”   

Glass’ roots are in one of the most accomplished athletic families in Michigan high school history.

Her father Larry Glass coached Northwestern University’s men’s basketball program from 1963-69, and later took over the Leland girls basketball program and led the Comets to a 388-110 record and three straight Class D Finals championships (1980-82) over two tenures from 1977-91 and 2000-05. Laurie’s sister Rebecca McKee played basketball at Leland and Michigan State University, and her brother Michael Glass played basketball at Lansing Community College before also becoming a high school and college coach.

Laurie also coached and parented arguably the most accomplished volleyball player – and perhaps top female athlete across all sports – in Michigan high school history. Her daughter Alisha Glass-Childress graduated from Leland in 2006 with national records for career kills, aces and blocks, and the first two still top those respective lists. Alisha, also an all-state basketball player, went on to star on the volleyball court at Penn State and as the U.S. Olympic team setter in 2016 in helping that team to the bronze medal.

Larry Glass’ lessons still ring true as Laurie passes them on to another generation. One of her favorite sayings from her father was “you can’t take money out of the bank until you put money in” – in essence, a coach can’t expect athletes to accept criticism or a hard ask if that coach first hasn’t invested in them. Another of her dad’s themes involved making sure players learned fundamentals at young ages and improved on them at all levels, whether they won games or not during those early years. As one of his middle school coaches, that stuck with her, and it remains a basic component of her coaching.

“I’ve always said that we compete with teams that are way more athletic, have all the things on paper that should beat us. And the fact that we know how to be a really good team is what allows us to beat people who on paper should be better than us,” Laurie Glass said. “I’ve always valued the time spent on culture and team because that’s the advantage we hold. We’re never going to be the tallest or most talented – Alisha being the anomaly, of course.”

Laurie Glass has served on the MIVCA Executive Board, including as president, and is a member of the MHSCA and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA). Locally, her program annually hosts the Forever Dig Abby match in honor of former player Abby Gross, who died after a fight against cancer in 2015. Proceeds most years go to benefit another community member battling the disease, and this past season went to a fund for efforts related to ovarian cancer.  

Glass has served nearly 35 years in education and retired from her duties as a behavior intervention specialist and special education teacher in the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District in 2019. She has returned to the school setting, however, and is in her second year as a behavior intervention specialist at Leland.

Glass earned a bachelor’s degree in special education with an endorsement in emotional impairment from Western Michigan University in 1988, and has done master-level coursework in education administration and technology. She also is a certified instructor for the Crisis Prevention Institute. Glass first attended Grand Valley State University and played a season of volleyball before transferring. (NOTE: Glass also coached the Kalamazoo Central varsity for two seasons during the mid-1980s. Those records are unavailable currently but will be added to her overall record when research is complete.)

Past Women In Sports Leadership Award Winners

1990 – Carol Seavoy, L’Anse 
1991 – Diane Laffey, Harper Woods
1992 – Patricia Ashby, Scotts
1993 – Jo Lake, Grosse Pointe
1994 – Brenda Gatlin, Detroit
1995 – Jane Bennett, Ann Arbor
1996 – Cheryl Amos-Helmicki, Huntington Woods
1997 – Delores L. Elswick, Detroit
1998 – Karen S. Leinaar, Delton
1999 – Kathy McGee, Flint 
2000 – Pat Richardson, Grass Lake
2001 – Suzanne Martin, East Lansing
2002 – Susan Barthold, Kentwood
2003 – Nancy Clark, Flint
2004 – Kathy Vruggink Westdorp, Grand Rapids 
2005 – Barbara Redding, Capac
2006 – Melanie Miller, Lansing
2007 – Jan Sander, Warren Woods
2008 – Jane Bos, Grand Rapids
2009 – Gail Ganakas, Flint; Deb VanKuiken, Holly
2010 – Gina Mazzolini, Lansing
2011 – Ellen Pugh, West Branch; Patti Tibaldi, Traverse City
2012 – Janet Gillette, Comstock Park
2013 – Barbara Beckett, Traverse City
2014 – Teri Reyburn, DeWitt
2015 – Jean LaClair, Bronson
2016 – Betty Wroubel, Pontiac
2017 – Dottie Davis, Ann Arbor
2018 – Meg Seng, Ann Arbor
2019 – Kris Isom, Adrian
2020 – Nikki Norris, East Lansing
2021 – Dorene Ingalls, St. Ignace
2022 – Lori Hyman, Livonia

PHOTOS (Top) Leland coach Laurie Glass confers with one of her players during the 2019 Division 4 Final at Kellogg Arena. (Middle) Glass passes the championship trophy to her team after the Comets won the 2015 Class D title.