By: Butch Harmon
volleyball state tourney preview
By BUTCH HARMON
The high school volleyball season is reaching its zenith this month, as the state tournament is in full swing. High School Sports Scene takes a look at some of the sizzling action taking place on the courts around mid Michigan.
The Class A district at Okemos will feature two of the finest teams in mid Michigan in Okemos and DeWitt. Okemos has a powerful junior duo of Daria Richards and Rachel Thomas who can dominate at the net. DeWitt features a senior-laden team that is capable of a deep tournament run. Senior middle hitters Lexi Nordmann and Abby Nakfoor and outside hitter Maria Moss have been among the team leaders for the Panthers, who shared the CAAC Red title with Mason.
The Class A district at Holt has two more premier teams in Holt and Mason. Holt enjoyed a big regular season, and the Rams will be looking for a deep tournament run. Outside hitter Brooke Peiffer has been a standout all season along with senior setter Autumn Stokes, who has keyed the offense. Willow Martin, another one of many talented juniors in the Lansing area this year, has led the way for Mason along with Erin McDermott.
A regional matchup between Holt/Mason and Okemos/DeWitt would be one to watch for.
St. Johns has played solid volleyball this season and is primed to come out of its own district. Senior hitters Chloe Waszak and Maddy Slamka lead the offense along with talented setter Katie Maloney.
If the St. Johns captures the district title, it will be on to the Mt. Pleasant regional, where the winner of the Bay City Western district will be looming. Both Midland and Midland Dow have been enjoying big seasons. The one-two punch of seniors Mariah Sherman and Taylor Jensen leads the Midland offense along with setter Ericka Reder. Senior Madi Kuch has been the top hitter for Dow along with setter Kylee Juday.
Lakewood has been ranked among the top teams in the state in Class B this season, and the Vikings are poised for a deep tournament run. Senior middle blocker Vanessa Reynhout is one of the top middle blockers in the entire state, while junior outside hitter Charlie Smith and senior outside hitter Gabbie Shellenbarger are also keys to the offense.
The district at Lansing Catholic features several top teams, including the top two teams in the CAAC White, host Catholic Central and league champion Williamston. Junior outside hitter Renee Sturm and senior Paige Dutcher keyed Williamston’s run to the league title. Seniors Delaney Thompson, Tori Watters, and Chloe Miller led the way for Lansing Catholic this season. Hastlett is another outstanding team at the district and is led by senior Mackenna Ott, who is one of the most dynamic players in the area. The district also features another outstanding player in Perry senior Abigael Brenke, who is one of the top hitters in the state.
Further east, the Chesaning district has plenty of talented teams battling it out. Swan Valley, led by Lauren Huebner and Larissa Crook, has been solid all season and will face Freeland, which is led by the dynamic one-two punch of junior Abby Dominowski and senior Taryn Taugher. Hemlock will also be a factor, led by Hannah Conley.
Corunna, one of the top young teams in the area, will be flexing its muscle at the Lake Fenton district. Sophomore sensation Meredith Norris leads the Cavaliers along with junior Skylar Napier and sophomore Baylee Balcom. Durand will also be in the mix, led by standout senior Emily Buckelew and setter Madison Lintz.
Morley Stanwood has again been one of the premier Class C teams in the state, and the Mohawks begin their quest for a state title at the White Cloud district. It features the dynamic one-two punch of seniors Kayla Rosman and Mekayla Carey at the net.
Beal City will be among the teams looking to derail Morley Stanwood’s title hopes this season. The Aggies have a solid team of their own, led by hitters Nicole Gross and Jordan Schneider and setter Andrea Esch.
St. Louis also has its sights set on a deep tournament run. The Sharks have a talented squad led by Riley Smith, Ashtyn Maniez, and setter Jaelynn Block.
Carson City-Crystal has a veteran team and is poised for a deep tournament run at the Pewamo-Westphalia district. The Eagles are led by seniors Sierra Assemany and Tia Jolls along with Hailey Gregory and Katlyn Dailey. Laingsburg, led by Alexis Snider, Lindsay Smith, and Caitlyn Kane will also be a factor at the district. Shannon Wohlfert, Maria Heckman, and Sarah Lehman are among the leaders for Pewamo-Westphalia.
New Lothrop is a team to watch coming out of the Millington district. Autumn Severn, Lauryn Bishop, and Kate Merlo are some of the talented players leading the way for New Lothrop.
Sacred Heart Academy has been solid all season and is an area team to watch. Lexie Methner leads the way, along with other talented players like Bainy Scully, Riley Terwilliger, and Katelyn Eidenberger.
Fowler has a talented veteran team this season led by the likes of Kara Schafer, Tori Wirth, and Aubrey Snyder.
Lansing Christian is another team capable of a deep tournament run. Morgan Valley, Nikki Rakestraw, and Paige Porter have been among the leaders for the Pilgrims this season.