Sacred Heart Caps Classic Comeback with 1st Volleyball Championship
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
November 19, 2022
BATTLE CREEK – You could forgive Lillie Laney for not immediately processing what she and her Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart volleyball teammates accomplished Saturday.
In fact, you could forgive anyone who was in Kellogg Arena to watch the Irish comeback in the Division 4 Final for not being quite sure what they just witnessed.
Sacred Heart looked all but done after two sets, but came roaring back to defeat Athens 14-25, 13-25, 25-23, 27-25, 15-11 and claim its first-ever Finals title.
“I can’t even remember what the last point was,” the Sacred Heart senior said. “It’s all just a blur. I just remember us getting the point and everybody dog-piling.”
The last point was an Athens attack that went just long, and as soon as the line judge’s flag went up, the Sacred Heart bench met Laney and her teammates in the center of the court to start the celebration.
Sacred Heart won the match’s final six points, completing a third straight comeback in a must-win set, and finishing off what had seemed improbable about an hour earlier.
“I feel like at the beginning when we were down by a lot, we started getting down on ourselves,” Sacred Heart junior libero Bridget Ruiz said. “In the third set, we kind of were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to pick it up here.’ And we just kind of kept it going and going and going and going.”
The match was the first five-setter of the season for the Irish (44-7-6), who had advanced to the Division 4 Semifinals a year ago.
“That’s the way a state championship match should be,” Irish coach Krista Davis said. “It should be a fight to the end. It should be just a back and forth. I don’t think any team really made mistakes. In my recollection, I just felt like it was who could get the ball and just hit it the hardest. It was pound, pound, pound, pound. That was a good championship match.”
Athens led the majority of the final set, before a Laney block put her team up 12-11. Another block in combination with sophomore setter Sophie Hauck gave the Irish a cushion, and sophomore outside hitter Chelsea Lynch served out the final two points, which ended with Athens attacks going long.
“I always thought it was possible, but that was the final push,” Laney said. “That was the, ‘We gotta go, we gotta get moving. We have this now. It’s in our hands. It’s within reach.’”
Laney finished the match with 19 kills and seven blocks. The 5-foot-10 middle hitter had just two errors on 39 attacks in the match.
Eliza Pieratt had 17 assists and 17 digs for the Irish, while Hauck had 24 assists and four blocks. Ruiz added 29 digs, Angel Brown had 10 kills and 16 digs, and Lynch had 13 digs.
Most of that came over the final three sets, as Athens was dominant to start the match, and looked well on its way to claiming a first Finals title of its own.
Athens’ varied attack with setter Alaina Brubaker feeding hitters Kylie Quist, Kamryn Parlin, Jocelyn Hall and Piper Porter had Sacred Heart reeling through the first two sets.
“I think we started out super strong, and collectively we were playing very, very well,” Athens coach Jacy Cole said. “Then, third set, they started getting the momentum and took that third set. We came back in the fourth set and I thought we did well, just made a few communication errors, I think, that kind of rattled us a little bit. We couldn’t quite get our footing back under us. Fifth set, I think they just were more offensive than we were, and they were very good defensively at the net.”
Quist led the Athens attack with 20 kills, while Hall had 18, Porter had 17 and Parlin had 10. Brubaker finished the day with 56 assists and 19 digs. Parlin had a massive game defensively, as well, adding 23 digs and nine total blocks. The other attackers also chipped in defensively, as Hall had 24 digs, Piper had 18 and Quist had 14.
Athens was playing in a Final for the first time, as it wrapped up a season that featured the program’s first-ever Regional title. Of course, each of the past two years, Athens had lost in the Regional Final to eventual Division 4 champion Battle Creek St. Philip, with their match going to five sets in 2021.
“Right now, our team probably doesn’t feel like it, but we’ve done so much this year together,” Hall said. “It’s one of the best feelings ever, and it’s something that we’re going to remember for a very long time together. All the memories and the history that we’ve made this year with the support of the community right there behind us. They’re a huge part of this. We’re just thankful for everything.”
PHOTOS (Top) Players converge on Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart coach Krista Davis after she receives the Division 4 championship trophy Saturday. (Middle) The Irish’s Lillie Laney (9) follows through on a kill attempt with Athens’ Piper Porter blocking. (Below) Sacred Heart’s Angel Brown (23) puts up a block as the ball reaches the net.
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 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.