Novi Seniors Go Out With 3rd Class A Win

November 18, 2017

By Perry A. Farrell
Special for Second Half

BATTLE CREEK – Two of the greatest athletes ever to compete for Novi High School finished two of the most memorable volleyball careers in school and state history Saturday at Kellogg Arena.

Setter and Miss Volleyball Award winner Erin O’Leary and outside hitter Abryanna Cannon led the Wildcats as they captured their third straight Class A volleyball title with a 25-23, 25-9, 25-23 victory over a young Bloomfield Hills Marian team in their last match as high school teammates before they face off as Big Ten rivals at the college level.

O’Leary is signed with University of Michigan, and Cannon is signed with Northwestern. Cannon finished her high school career with 18 kills and 15 defensive digs, while O’Leary had 33 assists and 11 kills to conclude her fourth trip to the Finals and third title run.

“I came in a few weeks before the start of school (junior year) and I went into the gym and I knew these players were special,’’ said Cannon, who moved from Traverse City West midway through her career. “I couldn’t have asked for more. It has been a great experience. Erin is just an incredible setter. She made things easy for me.’’

The Wildcats finished 57-3 to run coach Jennifer Cottrill’s record to 286-24-2 in six years guiding the program.

“I don’t know if I or the team understands the gravity of what we have just done,’’ said Cottrill. “They are just really good student-athletes. They deserve it. It’s amazing that they have accomplished what they had set out to do.’’

Marian (45-12-1) actually led 12-10 in the first game before the Wildcats reeled off three straight points to take a 14-12 lead.

When it reached 17-13, first-year Marian coach Lauren Duquette was forced to call a timeout. Her team got the score to 20-20 but couldn’t gain the advantage. A Cannon dink shot over the net ended a two-point win for the Wildcats.

“It was the first time in the tournament we played under pressure, and winning that first game was the difference,’’ said Cottrill.

Novi came out swinging in the second game, scoring eight of the first 12 points to force Duquette to again call a timeout.

Novi continued on to build a double-digit lead (19-7), with the Mustangs having no answer.

Cannon and Kathryn Ellison (who will next play at Kent State) kept pounding winners at the net while O’Leary kept the motor running with her all-around game.

The lead eventually swelled to 21-7 before Marian scored another point. An ace by Cannon ended the second game as the beleaguered Mustangs faced the inevitable.

But it was a loose group at the other end as O’Leary danced to “Don’t Stop Believing” and hugged teammates as she zeroed in on her third title.

“It’s about the team,’’ said O’Leary. “What makes it so much easier is that we focus on each other as a team. We’re a family. Our parents are family, and we are all so close.’’

Hanging on, Marian trailed 10-9 in the third game, then led 14-12 before another ace by Cannon started a rally for the Wildcats.

A soft spike by O’Leary gave the Wildcats a 19-18 lead. Marian made one last push, getting to within 22-21. But a Cannon block put Novi back within two points of the title, and moments later the Wildcats clinched it.

Ellison added 12 kills and 14 digs for Novi. Junior setter Maddie Dowd had 18 assists for Marian, which advanced to its first Final since 2013 by avenging two losses to Farmington Hills Mercy in the Semifinal.

“They were just so much taller than us,’’ said Duquette of taking on Novi’s hitters.

But noting the run, she added, “This is my first year here, and what my team has been able to accomplish in 3½ months … I may look normal, but I’m crazy and I put them through a lot.’’

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Novi’s Jaeda Porter tries to put a kill between Marian’s Christine Audette (8) and Maggie DePorre (2). (Middle) The Wildcats’ Erin O’Leary serves during her final match.

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.