Saturday will mark three weeks since Reese completed an almost astonishing comeback to win its first MHSAA Volleyball Finals championship.
But the Rockets are still riding high like it happened yesterday – and there’s no reason to end the celebration any time soon.
As volleyball coach Angie Compton looked into the crowd during Thursday’s girls basketball game, she saw a sea of Reese championship shirts – many worn by people she’s never seen before.
“I’ll see people out, and they’re still congratulating us. The girls (Thursday) are like, ‘Oh my God, everybody is wearing our championship shirts today – the town must have all gotten them,’” Compton said. “I think so many alumni are just super excited about it. The school is still so excited for us, and other students, they know it’s a really big deal. It’s really given us something fun, and some pride.”
Reese’s volleyball team – the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for November – gave us an unforgettable comeback that likely will be brought up for years to come when discussing the tournament’s most extraordinary finishes.
It’s not that the Rockets won, but how:
For starters, the Finals championship was the school’s first since the boys cross country team’s title in 1964.
Reese was up against Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, which had won the previous two Division 3 championships and five titles total over the last 11 seasons.
The Rockets, meanwhile, had the day before played in their second Semifinal ever and first since 2010.
Reese then lost the first two sets to the Kestrels, 25-18 and 25-19.
And then – as the story was told – the Rockets broke into some unexpected song and dance, keeping things light, and won the next two sets 25-15 and 25-21 and then the final two points of the fifth to clinch at 16-14.
Learning to find the fun in those moments, even the toughest ones, had been part of the team’s mental preparation earlier in the season, and those lessons clearly paid off. The Rockets didn’t enter the match focusing on St. Mary’s past successes, and were able to bounce back midway through the match when it seemed this golden opportunity was all but lost.
“A few years ago, if my team was in this position, I would’ve had a totally different demeanor about it – get refocused, this is what we need to do … it would have been a different talk,” Compton said of climbing out of the 0-2 deficit. “It’s because of this team, and what they respond to. … I think it’s amazing.”
Senior Maddi Osantowski’s 34 kills were the fourth-most in a championship match, senior Josie Johnson’s 29 digs tied for fourth, and senior Sarah Gray also made that digs list with 21. Senior Aydan Dalak – Compton’s daughter – just missed the list for most assists in a Final with 42.
Osantowski was named to the all-state first team after the season, while Dalak made the second and Johnson earned an honorable mention.
Eight seniors total anchored the team, which finished 35-5-1.
Past Teams of the Month, 2021-22
October: Birmingham Groves boys tennis - Read
Sarah Bradley ♦ Clarkston Everest Collegiate
Junior ♦ Volleyball
The 6-0 outside hitter had 31 kills – tied for sixth-most in an MHSAA Final – with a .419 hitting percentage and 18 digs as Everest Collegiate came back from a two-set deficit to defeat No. 4-ranked Leland in five in Saturday’s Division 4 championship match at Kellogg Arena. The first Finals title in program history capped a tournament run that saw the Mountaineers also win their first Regional title. Everest entered the postseason ranked No. 10 in Division 4 and finished 32-4-2.
Bradley finished the season with 420 kills, adding 15 in a Quarterfinal win over No. 6 Marlette and 25 in a five-set Semifinal victory over top-ranked Adrian Lenawee Christian during which Everest also came back after losing the first two sets. Bradley was named to the Division 4 all-state first team after earning an honorable mention as a sophomore. She also plays basketball, softball and soccer for the Mountaineers and is interested in pursuing a career in the medical field as she begins contemplating her college possibilities.
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Past 2023-24 Honorees
Nov. 17: Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10: Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3: Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27: Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20: Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13: Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5: Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29: MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22: Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15: Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8: Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1: Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report
(Photos courtesy of the Clarkston Everest Collegiate athletic department.)