State champions. Outside hitters. Star Liberos.
This year’s 10 finalists for Michigan’s Miss Volleyball Award are all great players, although a couple of stars might have just missed the cut. The coaches who vote for the award will have to do their diligence with the likes of Gia Milana of Class A state champion Romeo, Victoria Iacobelli of Novi and Lake Orion transfer Courtney Wightman, who dominated for three years at Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes.
Here’s a quick look at the final 10:
Grand Rapids NorthPointe, 6-feet-1, setter, middle hitter
The hard-hitting four-year starter was first-team all-state in Class C as a junior and third team as a sophomore. Led the team to the 2014 conference title as the team advanced to the regional final before losing to Schoolcraft. The 4.0 student entered the season with 1,247 kills, 1,235 assists and should surpass 1,000 digs for her career this season. “She is the leader on the floor and a motivating and encouraging teammate,” said Coach and mom Betsy DeVries. Made All-Region in track in 2014 and 2015. Has a personal best of 5-feet-4 in the high jump.
Novi, 5-10, outside hitter
Novi entered the week as the top-ranked team in Division 1, and Iacobelli is a big reason why. The four-year starter was first-team all-state a year ago and was named Oakland County player of the year. MaxPreps.com named her All-America and a candidate for the national junior of the year last season. In 2014, she had a school-record 642 kills and started this season with 1,235 for her career. Her 1,320 digs are on pace to finish in the top 15 in MHSAA history. Scored 30 on her ACT and has a 4.0588 grade-point average. “A true leader and a true role model for our school and community,” said Coach Jennifer Cottrill.
Monroe St. Mary’s Catholic Central, 6-1, middle, outside hitter
Made first-team all-state as a junior. Led the team to the Class C state title with a 45-8-2 record. Made the state quarterfinal as a sophomore under legendary Coach Diane Tuller. Has a 3.61 grade-point average and plans on playing volleyball and studying premed in college.
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 5-5, Libero/outside setter
The four-year varsity performer made first-team all-state as a junior in Class B and was All-County, All-Region, All-Catholic, All-League and All-Area. Made second-team all-state as a sophomore and helped the team to a 62-2-1 record and the state title. Is on the Prep Volleyball All-American watch list. Had 198 aces entering the season with 330 sets played and 1,497 digs. Has a 3.85 grade-point average and will attend Western Kentucky in 2016. “She was brought up to varsity during her freshman year to fill in for an injured player,” said Coach Betty Wroubel. “Emma embraced that role and never looked back.”
Grand Haven, 6-0, outside hitter
Made second team all-state as a junior and was on the 2015 preseason All-America list. Led team to a 52-9 record a year ago as the team advanced to the semifinals. She had 128 aces a year ago with 491 kills, 487 digs and received the team’s best defensive player award. Committed to Hillsdale to continue her career. “Lachmann is a top-notch, six-rotation attacker with outstanding ball control skills,” said Coach Aaron Smaka.
Romeo, 6-2, outside hitter
The four-year starter had an outstanding junior year, leading the Lady Bulldogs to the Class A state title. Made first-team all-state and was third team as a sophomore. Was selected to compete on the Girls Youth National Training team as one of 20 players across the country. Over the past two years, had 1,231 kills and was spectacular in the state semifinal and final. Committed to the University of Maryland and has compiled a 3.58 grade-point average. “Gia not only holds herself accountable to the highest standards, but she also holds her teammates accountable as well,” said Coach Stacy Williams.
Grand Rapids Christian, 5-11, outside hitter
Made first-team all-state as a junior, helping her team to a 41-7 record. Made the Beast of the East all-tournament team. Had a 94.1% serving percentage. For her career, entered the season with 708 kills, 59 aces and 736 digs. Has a 3.7 grade-point average and committed to Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville. “Dylynn played middle for us last year because we needed her in that position, but she played six rotations,” said coach Tiffannie Gates. “She sleeps, eats and breathes volleyball.”
Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, 5-9, outside hitter
The four-year starter received all-state honors as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and has made All-Catholic each year. Led the team to three district titles and won the regional championship last season. Plays travel volleyball and has a 3.90 grade-point average. Committed to the University of New Hampshire. “She is a great leader, teammate and extremely coachable,” said Coach Mayssa Bazzi.
Mattawan, 5-4, libero
Last season, had 51 aces and a 94.9% serve rating. Recorded 87 assists, 695 digs and helped the team finished the year 39-8. Was all-state first team as a junior and second team as a sophomore. Considered one of the best Libero’s in the state.
Lake Orion, 5-10, outside hitter
Transferred from Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes. Made Class D all-state as a junior, sophomore and freshman. Her Lakes team advanced to the semifinal a year ago. Had 444 kills a year ago, 39 blocks and 34 aces. Committed to Oakland University. “This will be Courtney’s first season at Lake Orion,” said Coach Tony Scavarda. “I can already tell she is a very coachable and likeable person."
Detroit Free Press, September 18, 2015