ADRIAN – Abby Weber doesn’t stand out on the volleyball court during warm-ups or lineup introductions.
At about 5-foot-6, Weber doesn’t look like a dominating volleyball player – until the game starts, that is. After that, opponents better know where she’s at and how to stop her.
The Adrian Madison senior captain has been the key cog in a Trojans volleyball team that won its 33rd match of the season Monday. She’s on the varsity for the fourth straight season and, with her on the team, Madison hasn’t lost a Tri-County Conference game. The Trojans have won 49 straight TCC matches – and picked up five straight league titles along the way. They are in great shape to capture a sixth straight as they are 7-0 in the league with five matches left.
In the win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford, Weber was more than dominating, standing out for her serving, hitting, and seemingly making every dig necessary.
“It’s just her drive,” Madison coach Heather Lanning said. “She is one of those kids who has a heart of gold and the drive and the ambition. She will not let a ball drop.”
Weber started playing volleyball when she was 6, at the YMCA in Adrian. She attended volleyball camps at Madison while growing up, then joined a travel team out of Toledo, located about 35 minutes from Madison, which is in Lenawee County. She played two years on the middle school team, then was brought straight to the Trojans varsity as a freshman.
She played her way into the lineup and has stayed there since. Last year she was the only underclassmen in an otherwise all-senior lineup. Despite not being a senior, she was a captain. It is a role she relishes.
“They all depend on me because I’m a captain,” she said. “I love to help them and give them energy. When someone gets a kill or something, I want to congratulate them because it’s a big deal. They love it.”
In the win over Whiteford, Weber recorded her 1,500th career kill. Earlier this year she went over 1,000 digs. It’s kind of like a basketball player having 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds during a career.
“It just goes to show her drive and her ability on the court,” Lanning said. “That’s just Abby.”
Lanning is the second coach Weber has played for during her four-year varsity career. Lanning previously coached the Trojans JV team, so she was familiar with most of the Madison varsity when she got the head coaching job. She didn’t now Weber, but it didn’t take her long to notice what a gem she had inherited.
“She already knew everyone else,” Weber said. “I was into the mix with them.”
Lanning was looking over some statistics from the last couple of seasons when she realized the milestone her returning all-conference and all-county player was nearing.
“She told me I was coming up to 1,500 digs,” Weber said. “I know it was a pretty great accomplishment to get it. I’m happy about it.”
Weber said she couldn’t do it alone. Through Monday she has 1,508 career digs and 1,104 career kills. She had 19 kills and 17 digs in Monday’s match alone.
“My team helps me,” Weber said. “I wouldn’t be able to get a dig if it wasn’t for people helping me and telling me where everyone is, and I wouldn’t have as many kills as I do if it wasn’t for my setters and back row making the pass. It’s because of everyone.”
Driven by a high energy level on the court, Weber often serves, then makes a move to get closer to the net, and, finally, will get to the front row before the ball is back on her team’s side.
“I like to go with the faster-pace tempo,” she said.
Lanning said wherever she puts Weber, she is impressed.
“She’s very effective on the attack from the back row,” Lanning said. “She can still kill it from the back row. It doesn’t matter where she is at.”
The moves Weber made impressed her opposing coach Monday. Whiteford’s Janie Bunge saw far too much of Weber.
“She was everywhere,” Bunge said. “As soon as her rotation came up, she’d serve six or seven points in a row. We couldn’t stop her.”
Weber is interested in playing college volleyball but isn’t sure where at the moment. She’s been looking at some schools at the NAIA level.
“I love being part of a team,” Weber said. “I have made a lot of friends from volleyball and competing against other teams. It’s really fun.”
Madison keeps getting stronger as the season goes on. They are getting contributions from multiple players, including sophomores Tatum Wilson and Jillian Kendrick, four juniors and five of Weber’s fellow seniors, such as Mallory Palpant and Hannah Kendrick. All four of those players had their moments in Monday’s win.
Madison has begun getting some votes in the weekly Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association rankings. The Trojans were among the honorable mention teams in the latest Division 3 poll. The top-ranked team – Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central – is in the District that Madison will host.
“We are thinking about Districts,” Weber said. “We’re just going to try and figure out where the other teams’ holes are and what we need to do.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Adrian Madison’s Abby Weber gets high over the net on a kill attempt this season against Sand Creek. (Middle) Webber sends a volley back toward the Aggies’ side of the net. (Photos by Mike Dickie.)
MacKenzie Bisballe ♦ Lake City
Senior ♦ Volleyball
Bisballe led Lake City to a key Highland Conference sweep of Manton with 13 kills, 12 assists and 16 digs, and added 40 kills, 57 assists, 43 digs and 12 blocks as Lake City finished last week with a 5-0 run through the Kalkaska Invitational. Lake City is ranked No. 7 in Division 3 this week, and Manton had received an honorable mention in the state coaches poll at the time of their match.
The 6-foot-1 standout made the Division 3 all-state second team last season and has helped Lake City to a 26-5-2 start teaming up in part with senior cousin Alison Bisballe, as the duo share setting and middle responsibilities. Both are likely known even more for basketball; MacKenzie made the Division 3 all-state team in that sport last season as Lake City girls hoops finished 24-2. She’ll continue her basketball career next year at Grand Valley State, where she’ll play with older sister Rylie Bisballe, a redshirt junior for the Lakers, and cousin Macy Bisballe, a redshirt sophomore.
@mhsaasports 🏐POW: Kenzie Bisballe #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #jordan #sprite #nerdgummyclusters #family #silkpillowcase #cryingemoji #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA
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Past 2023-24 Honorees
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
(Top photo courtesy of the Cadillac News.)