Marian Avenges Season's Lone Loss in Clinching 3rd-Straight Title

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

November 19, 2022

BATTLE CREEK – Izzy Busignani spent most of the Division 1 Volleyball Final on Saturday smashing the ball through the court at Kellogg Arena.

But when it came time to close out Bloomfield Hills Marian’s third straight title, the sophomore went with finesse.

“I saw a triple block in front of me, and I saw that the defense was back on their heels, so I knew that if I tipped it short, it would either be out of system or it would go straight down,” Busignani said. “I was just kind of watching it and waiting to see what the result was.”

Busignani’s 27th kill on the day was a tip over the block that the Northville back line couldn’t control, ending a 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-11 victory for Marian. 

The win avenged top-ranked Marian’s only loss of the season, and gave the program its fifth Finals title.

“The biggest thing we talked about is that this is our home court,” Marian coach Mayssa Cook said. “Yes, we were the home team on the scoreboard, but we’ve been here now, our third year in a row, so this is our home court, and we knew we had that advantage. We had the experience of playing on this stage, in this gym. We know the way it smells, it looks, it feels, all that stuff.”

Northville’s Abby Reck (17) sends a kill attempt at Swanson and Ella Schomer (12).That experience came through in the third set, when Northville (47-4) looked to be in command, taking a 19-12 lead. The Kalamazoo Christian student section – waiting for its team to play in the Division 3 Final – had even joined the smaller group of students from Northville to put some more energy behind the Mustangs.

But Marian (49-1) got its own boost from the Pewamo-Westphalia students section, and rattled off seven straight points – six on the serve of senior Lauren Heming – to put Northville on its heels. Not long after, a pair of kills from Busignani closed out a 25-22 set and gave Marian a 2-1 lead.

“That’s not the first time that’s happened,” Marian senior setter Ava Sarafa said of the student section invasions. “Last year we were staying at the same hotel and we had multiple schools come and watch us from the stands. I thought the Marian students did a really good job of being loud, but adding that student section on both sides upped the amount of momentum that each team had. It didn’t increase the pressure, but it also just lightens the vibe and makes you really pumped up. It also fueled us a lot, having that extra support on our side.”

From there, Marian would roll, dominating the fourth set on its way to the title.

“I think they got mad,” Northville coach Sarah Lindstrom said of Marian. “A team like that, when they’re angry, is a scary team. You just kind of saw them realize, ‘We’re not going to let Northville do this to us.’ That’s at least how it felt for us. You have to give kudos to Mayssa for controlling their emotion and realizing a team that can be down to a team as good as mine, to get that many points and come back, you have to give credit to them.”

Busignani’s 27 kills led the Marian attack, and she also added 20 digs, tied for the team lead with Heming, who added four aces. Schomer added 14 kills and 17 digs, while Sarafa had 45 assists and 10 digs, and Molly Banta had 14 digs and three aces.

Marian celebrates its third-straight Finals victory. “Kids that don’t normally make spectacular digs and defensive plays were making them,” Cook said. “It was so beautiful to finally see us play the kind of defense – and I won’t name what schools – but there’s many times this season I said, ‘So and so plays defense like that,’ or ‘Their program is playing defense consistently point for point, there’s no reason we’re not, other than we’re choosing not to.’ It was so beautiful to see all our hitters be huge contributors in set 3 and 4, and all our defenders be contributors. Every kid went on a serving run. More than any year, this has felt like a true team effort.”

The Marian defense struggled to solve Northville star hitter Abby Reck early in the match, and she still managed to finish with 21 kills. But Marian eventually found a way.

“They started scrapping, they got a closed block,” Reck said. “We were out of system a lot. They started serving super aggressive, so our pass faltered a little bit. As soon as that happened, they can set up and it’s pretty hard to hit around. They’re a great team.”

Reck added 19 digs and three aces for Northville, which was making its first Finals appearance. Avry Nelson had 12 kills and three blocks, Taryn Rice had 20 digs, and Greta McKee and Ashlee Gnau each had 13.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Mckenzie Swanson (5) and Izzy Busignani (16) put up a block during the Mustangs’ Division 1 championship match win Saturday. (Middle) Northville’s Abby Reck (17) sends a kill attempt at Swanson and Ella Schomer (12). (Below) Marian celebrates its third-straight Finals victory.

2023 WISL Award Honoree Glass Continuing to Create Leaders On Court & Off

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.