Preview: Stage Set for Repeat Greatness

November 19, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Two reigning champions will return this weekend to the MHSAA's Volleyball Finals at Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena.

One features this season's Miss Volleyball. The other has earned an opportunity to define dominance like no other volleyball team in MHSAA history. 

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep's Katherine Carlson will attempt to lead the Fighting Irish to a repeat in Class B, while Battle Creek St. Philip did not enter the Class D tournament as the favorite but can leave with a record ninth straight Finals championship. 

See below for breakdowns of all 16 teams playing this weekend, beginning with Class B and C Semifinals on Thursday. Click for the full schedule and also for the broadcast schedule and links to all matches available live on

Class A


52-8, No. 3
Coach: Aaron Smaka, eighth season (300-128-4) 
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Championship game history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final. 
Best wins: 3-0 over No. 7 East Kentwood, 2-0, 2-0 and 2-1 over honorable mention Holland West Ottawa, 2-0, 3-2 and 2-0 over honorable mention Byron Center, 2-0, 2-0 and 2-0 over honorable mention Portage Central, 2-0 over Class B No. 2 North Branch, 2-0 over Class B No. 10 Grand Rapids South Christian.
Players to watch: Emily Lachmann, 6-0 jr. OH (443  kills, 121 aces, 454 digs); Katie Cole, 5-9 soph. S (1,731 assists, 292 digs); Autumn Monsma, 5-10 sr. OH  (494 kills, 409 digs); Amy Kober, 6-1 sr. OP (326 kills, 72 blocks, 329 digs).
Finals forecast: Grand Haven is back in the Semifinals for  the second time in three seasons and has won at least 42 matches in all three. Four hitters are at least 6-foot tall, with junior middle Ally Knoll leading the team with 109 blocks. Mason in the Quarterfinal was the only team to take a set from Grand Haven during the postseason. The run is even more impressive considering the team graduated three all-staters after last season.

53-5-1, No. 2
Coach: Jennifer Cottrill, third season (124-18-2) 
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association (Kensington Conference and overall)
Championship game history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-1 over No. 4 Lake Orion, 2-1 over No. 1 Temperance-Bedford, 2-0 and 2-0 over No. 8 Romeo, 2-0 over honorable mention Birmingham Seaholm, 3-1 over honorable mention White Lake Lakeland in Regional Final.
Players to watch: Victoria Iacobelli, 5-9 jr. OH (604 kills, 516 digs); Paulina Iacobelli, 5-9 jr. OH (465 kills, 62 aces, 601 digs); Erin O’Leary, 5-10 fr. S (1,305 assists, 61 aces, 35 blocks).
Finals forecast: Novi is back in the Semifinals for the second time in program history; the Wildcats also advanced in 2007 before falling in a five-set match to Bloomfield Hills Marian. This team is built for multiple runs – its top two hitters and setter should return in 2015, and they’re surrounded in the starting lineup this season by three seniors and a senior libero. Cottrill brings a variety of experience as a former four-year starter at Eastern Michigan University and coach at Ypsilanti Lincoln, Pinckney and Lakeland.

43-8-1, No. 8
Coach: Stacy Williams, ninth season (235-132-33) 
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship game history: Lower Peninsula Class A runner-up 1997.
Best wins: 2-0 over No.6 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 2-1, 2-0, 2-0 over honorable mention White Lake Lakeland; 2-1 over honorable mention Birmingham Seaholm, 3-1 over No. 5 Clarkston in Regional Final, 3-1 over honorable mention Farmington Hills Mercy in Quarterfinal, 3-0 and 3-2 over Class B No. 9 Marysville.
Players to watch: Gia Milana, 6-1 jr. OH/MB (472 kills, .440 hitting %, 65 aces, 232 digs); Jodie Kelly, 5-10 soph. OH/L (319 kills, 230 digs, 40 blocks); Lauren Korth, 5-10 sr. S (1,006 assists, 217 kills, 54 aces.
Finals forecast: Romeo took the next step this fall after making the Quarterfinals in 2013, with this Semifinal appearance its first since 1999. Milana was an all-state third-team selection as a sophomore and is the top hitter in a lineup with four starters at .300 success or better. The Bulldogs have won 15 straight matches since a loss to No. 2 Novi and also own a two-game sweep of Class D Semifinalist Waterford Our Lady.

71-5-2, No. 1
Coach: Jodi Manore, 30th season (1,814-298-52) 
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference
Championship game history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2005), five runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 2-0 over No. 4 Lake Orion, 2-1 and 2-0 over No. 6 Bloomfield Hills Marian, 2-0 over No. 9 Mattawan, 2-0 and 2-0 over honorable mention White Lake Lakeland, 2-1 over honorable mention Portage Central, 2-0, 3-1 and 3-2 (District Final) over honorable mention Saline, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class B No. 3 Chelsea, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class B No. 7 Mount Morris, 2-0 over Class C No. 1 Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.
Players to watch: Nicole Rightnowar 5-11 sr. MH (575 kills, .382 hitting %, 213 blocks, 542 digs, 82 aces); Kayla Gwozdz, 5-11 sr. OH (546 kills, .375 hitting %, 555 digs); Chloe Lamb, 6-0 sr. RT (313 kills, 143 blocks); Isabelle Marciniak, 5-11 jr. S (1,591 assists, 95 aces, 370 digs) 
Finals forecast: Bedford has made the Semifinals four of the last five seasons and was runner-up in 2012 with Rightnowar and Gwozdz in the lineup. Rightnowar is a four-year standout and was a Miss Volleyball candidate this fall; she made the all-state first team as a junior and will continue her career at Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne. Gwozdz was an all-state second teamer last season. Manore is closing in on the MHSAA record for volleyball coaching wins, needing only 19 to break it while carrying an incredible .838 winning percentage over two tenures as coach (she also coached the University of Toledo for 14 years).  

Class B

55-8-2, unranked
Coach: Terra King, ninth season (293-201-52) 
League finish: First in Interstate 8 Conference
Championship game history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-1 over No. 6 Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard in Quarterfinal, 3-2 over Class A honorable mention DeWitt, 2-0 over Class D No. 2 Mendon, 2-0 over Class D No. 3 Battle Creek St. Philip, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class D No. 5 Waterford Our Lady, 2-0 over Class C No. 7 Concord.
Players to watch: Olivia Leson, 5-9 jr. OH (496 kills, .412 hitting %, 314 digs); Charley Andrews, 5-10 soph. MB (496 kills, .412 hitting %, 167 blocks); Katie Wade, 5-7 soph. S (606 assists, 71 aces); Edrie Ganey, 5-7 jr. S (794 assists, 301 digs, 74 aces).
Finals forecast: Harper Creek will carry its longest playoff run and first Regional title just a few miles downtown for the first time with a starting lineup featuring no seniors aside from libero Kendall Latshaw. Harper Creek has nearly doubled last season’s 29 wins and has had success in the recent past with this fall’s District title its third in five seasons. Leson earned an all-state honorable mention as a sophomore and combines with Andrews to give the Beavers two dangerous finishers for its two-setter system.

50-8, No. 5
Coach: Kellie Rowland, 17th season (871-134)
League finish: First in Greater Lansing Activities Conference
Championship game history: Class B champion 2012, Class B runner-up 1995.
Best wins: 2-0 and 3-2 (Regional Final) over No. 10 Grand Rapids South Christian, 2-0 and 3-1 (Quarterfinal) over honorable mention Ada Forest Hills Eastern, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class A No. 3 Grand Haven.
Players to watch: Vanessa Reynhout, sr. MB (573 kills, .470 hitting %, 220 blocks, 62 aces); Charlie Smith, jr. OH (212 kills, 56 blocks, 148 digs); Gabie Shellenbarger, soph. S (998 assists, 202 digs); Gracie Shellenbarger, sr. OH (228 kills, 174 digs).
Finals forecast: This lineup is much different than the one that claimed the team’s first MHSAA title two seasons ago, although Reynhout, Smith and junior libero Karly Morris did see time in that championship match win over North Branch. Lakewood's 50 wins are the second-most in six seasons since Rowland returned as coach in 2009, and Reynhout and Gracie Shellenbarger are the only seniors in the main playing group. The Vikings have won 11 straight since losing to Class A honorable mention Portage Central.

59-7-4, No. 2
Coach: James D. Fish, 15th season (859-140-44) 
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference East
Championship game history: Class B champion 2009, three runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 3-0, 2-1 and 2-0 (District Final) over No. 7 Mount Morris, 3-0 over honorable mention Cadillac in the Quarterfinal, 3-0 and 3-0 (District Semifinal) over honorable mention Frankenmuth, 2-1 over Class A No. 4 Lake Orion, 2-1 over Class A honorable mention Farmington Hills Mercy, 2-0 over Class A honorable mention Byron Center, 2-0 over Class A honorable mention Holland West Ottawa.
Players to watch: Laura Willson, 6-1 sr. OH (726 kills, .380 hitting %, 96 aces, 88 blocks); Victoria Severance, 6-0 sr. MH (228 kills, .355 hitting %, 82 blocks); Mady Ruhlman, 5-5 sr. L (636 digs, 278 digs); Madee Miner, 5-7 soph. S (1,241 assists, 88 aces, 257 digs); Calla McNulty, 5-11 sr. OH (89 aces, 160 kills).
Finals forecast: North Branch finished runner-up to Lakewood in 2012 and with Willson its second-best hitter in that championship match. She made the all-state first team in 2013 and was a Miss Volleyball candidate this fall. Ruhlman, Severance and McNulty also saw time in that 2012 Final and have helped the Broncos to a third straight Regional title; with a Semifinal win the team would have at least 60 for the third straight season as well.

57-5, No. 1
Coach: Betty Wroubel, 21st season (829-193-81) 
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Championship game history: Class B champions 2013 and Fall 2007.
Best wins: 2-0 and 3-0 (Regional Final) over No. 9 Marysville, 3-0 and 3-0 (Quarterfinal) over honorable mention Dearborn Divine Child, 3-0 over No. 6 Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, 2-0 and 2-0 over Battle Creek Harper Creek, 2-0 over Class A No. 1 Temperance-Bedford, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class C No. 7 Concord, 3-0 over Class A honorable mention Farmington Hills Mercy, 2-0 over Class A honorable mention DeWitt, 2-0 over Class C No. 9 Ubly.
Players to watch: Katherine Carlson, 5-11 sr. OH (991 kills, .527 hitting percentage, 62 blocks, 111 aces, 415 digs); Hannah Antosz, 5-7 sr. S (632 assists, 215 digs, 77 aces); Ashley Knutson, 5-7 sr. S (929 assists, 211 kills, 373 digs); Emma Kowalkowski, 5-6 jr. DS (85 aces, 806 digs).
Finals forecast: Notre Dame Prep is favored to repeat as Class B champion with three players back after earning all-state honors in 2013 including Carlson, recently named Miss Volleyball for this season. She’s over 1,000 kills for the second straight season and will continue her career at Valparaiso University. Kowalkowski made the all-state second team last season and Knutson earned an honorable mention, and Antosz also started in last season’s Final.

Class C

Record/rank: 43-8-2, No. 1
Coach: Diane E. Tuller, 17th season (593-188-51)
League finish: Tied for first in Huron League
Championship game history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2012), two runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 2-0 over No. 4 Morley-Stanwood, 2-1 over Class B No. 7 Mount Morris, 3-0, 2-1 and 2-0 over Class B No. 4 New Boston Huron, 2-0 over Class D No. 6 Plymouth Christian.
Players to watch: Cassandra Haut, 6-2 sr. MH (604 kills, .444 hitting %, 86 aces); Madeline Pietraniec, 5-8 sr. OH (236 kills); Sydney McGinn, 5-10 sr. S (1,206 assists, 284 digs); Skylar Iott, 6-1 jr. MH (334 kills, 75 aces, 314 digs).
Finals forecast: If the recent pattern holds, St. Mary could be unbeatable this weekend; the Kestrels also won Class C in 2012 and 2010 and are back after making the Class B Quarterfinals a year ago. Haut made the all-state first team in Class B and was a Miss Volleyball finalist this fall; she’ll continue at Eastern Michigan University. She’s also one of three starters taller than 6-foot, which allowed St. Mary to again match up well with the Class A and B teams that made up the majority of the regular-season schedule.

49-11-2, No. 3
Coach: Heather Compton, 11th season (413-109-28) 
League finish: First in Jack Pine Conference
Championship game history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 2-1 and 3-0 (Quarterfinal) over honorable mention Calumet, 3-0 over No. 5 Traverse City St. Francis in Regional Final, 2-0 over Class D No. 9 Onaway, 2-0 over Class D No. 1 Leland.
Players to watch: Katie Tozer, 5-10 sr. MH (500 kills, .444 hitting %, 90 aces, 89 blocks); Lauren Shores, 5-10 jr. MH (248 kills, .383 hitting %, 58 blocks); Reagan Moffit, 6-0 sr. OH (437 kills, .409 hitting %, 191 digs); Logan Hutek, 5-9 sr. S (1,250 assists, 192 kills, 204 digs).
Finals forecast: Roscommon has followed up last season’s 56-5-2 finish in Class B with its first Regional title and third District championship in nine seasons. Tozer earned an all-state honorable mention in Class B last season and remains the top hitter for a team that also has a number of impressive losses – including to Class A Clarkston, Lake Orion and Saline and Class B Mount Morris, North Branch and Chelsea.

45-10-1, No. 2
Coach: Erin Onken, third season (122-37-4) 
League finish: First in Kalamazoo Valley Association
Championship game history: Class C champion 2008.  
Best wins: 3-1 over No. 8 Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian in the Regional Final, 3-0 over  honorable mention Ravenna in the Quarterfinal.
Player to watch: Marianne  Douglas, sr. OH. (Statistics not submitted.)
Finals forecast: Schoolcraft has won Regional titles the last three seasons and took the next step after falling to Mendon in five sets in their 2013 Quarterfinal. Douglas made the all-state third team last season and is one of four senior starters. 

43-7-2, honorable mention
Coach: Teresa Rose, seventh season (238-69-29) 
League finish: First in Greater Thumb Conference West
Championship game history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-0 over No. 9 Ubly in District Semifinal, 2-1 and 3-1 (Quarterfinal) over Brown City, 2-0 over St. Louis.
Players to watch: Erica Treiber, 6-1 sr. MH (676 kills, .487 hitting %, 72 aces, 239 blocks, 511 digs); Sam Ewald, sr. MH (217 kills, 45 blocks); Morgan Thomas, sr. S (557 assists, 42 aces, 217 digs), Jessica Marker, sr. RS (124 kills, 61 assists, 71 blocks).
Finals forecast: Unionville-Sebewaing has won three straight Regional titles and is headed to the Semifinals for the third time in Rose’s seven seasons as coach – while led by one of the most intriguing players in the state. Treiber will leave the thumb to continue her career next fall at the University of Tennessee and also was a Miss Volleyball finalist this fall.

Class D


Record/rank: 51-12-4, No. 3
Coach: Vicky Groat, 17th season (960-189-80) 
League finish: First in Southern Central Athletic Association
Championship game history: 19 MHSAA titles (most recent 2013), eight runner-up finishes.
Best wins: 2-0 and 3-0 (Quarterfinal) over No. 2 Mendon, 3-1, 3-1, 2-1 and 3-0 (Regional Final) over No. 4 Camden-Frontier; 2-0, 2-0 and 2-0 over honorable mention Climax-Scotts.
Players to watch: Emily Schaub, 5-8 sr. S (1,316 assists, 146 kills, 104 aces, 419 digs); Abby McKinzie, 5-8 jr. OH (634 kills, 501 digs, 62 aces); Anna Lehouiller, 6-0 jr. MH (155 kills, 63 blocks); Megan Parker, 5-7 sr. OH (444 kills, 547 digs, 64 aces).
Finals forecast: Gone are three more all-staters from last season (that makes six over two seasons), and St. Philip is back in the Semifinals after sweeping No. 2 Mendon on Tuesday. A ninth-straight title would set an MHSAA record; the Tigers are tied with Marysville 1997-2004 for longest championship streak. Schaub made the all-state first team last season and has plenty of experience leading a title run. 

42-12-4, No. 1 
Coach: Laurie Glass, 20th season (781-241-79)
League finish: Second in Northwest Conference
Championship game history: Four MHSAA titles (most recent 2006), five runner-up finishes. 
Best wins: 3-0 over honorable mention Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the Quarterfinal, 2-0 and 2-0 over Class C honorable mention Charlevoix, 2-0 over Traverse City Central.
Players to watch: Maddie Trumbull, 5-10 jr. OH (520 kills, 288 digs); Eva Grobbel, 5-11 jr. MB (244 kills,35 blocks); Jessica Fleis, 5-6 sr. S (1,017 assists, 91 aces, 190 digs); Whitney Schaub, 5-4 sr. L (460 digs, 65 aces).
Finals forecast: Leland returns to the Semifinals for the second straight season after playing at least six matches against teams from all six classes – with impressive results. The Comets finished 3-2-1 against Class A teams, 5-3-1 against Class B, 14-7-1 against Class C and 19-0-1 against Class D programs. Leland graduated three players who earned all-state recognition last season, but Schaub made the third team and is one of a number of strong servers – four have at least 65 aces, and senior Erica Ongaro had a team-high 166 through the Regional.

34-16-5, No. 9
Coach: Steve Watson, 12th season (359-179-53)
League finish: First in Ski Valley Conference
Championship game history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 3-0 over No. 10 Pickford in the Regional Final, 3-0 over No. 8 Stephenson in the Quarterfinal.
Players to watch: Lexi Szymoniak, 5-8 sr. OH (549 kills, 83 aces, 31 blocks, 702 digs); Taylor Ehrke, 5-8 soph. S (849 assists, 125 kills, 373 digs); Elise Arkwood, 5-4 sr. MH (181 kills, 76 aces, 351 digs); Ashley LaLonde, 5-4 sr. RS (406 digs, 85 aces).
Finals forecast: Onaway is on an excellent three-year run, making its second trip to the Semifinals after winning its third league and District titles during that time. Szymoniak made the all-state second team last season and Ehrke made the third. The Cardinals have beaten two straight ranked teams to reach Battle Creek, and also split earlier this season with top-ranked Leland – the only Class D team not to fall to the Comets.

27-21-5, No. 6
Coach: Stephanie Swearingen, sixth season (137-56-23) 
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League AA
Championship game history: Class D runner-up 2013. 
Best wins: 3-0 and 3-0 (Quarterfinal) over No. 7 Marine City Cardinal Mooney, 3-2 over No. 6 Plymouth Christian in the Regional Final.
Players to watch: Courtney Wightman, 5-11 jr. OH (408 kills, 36 blocks); Lindsay Wightman, 5-7 soph. OH (300 kills, 108 aces, 487 digs); Rebekah Collier, 6-1 jr. MB (158 kills, 106 blocks); Beth Meehan, 5-5 jr. S (1,039 assists, 289 digs).
Finals forecast: Our Lady’s record is a bit deceiving; subtract a 1-9 run midseason against mostly Class A teams, and the Lakers fall right into place with four sweeps in five postseason matches. Courtney Wightman made the all-state first team last season in leading Our Lady to its first championship match, and Lindsay Wightman made the all-state second team as a freshman.

PHOTO: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, including this season's Miss Volleyball Katherine Carlson (11), celebrates during last year's Class B Semifinal; Notre Dame went on to win the Class B championship.

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)