BY DAN STICKRADT
It was an exceptional year for prep volleyball in the NorthOaklandSports.com coverage area. There were more teams that enjoyed postseason success than any other year in the past.
For starters, in the MHSAA Class A state tournament, Lake Orion and Clarkston both reached the Final Four with Lake Orion defeating Clarkston in the state semifinals match before falling to Rockford in the state championship game.
Over in the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I state tournament, Troy Bethany Christian made its annual trip to the Final Four, making it 13 straight seasons the Bruins have reached that point.
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, with a young team, advanced to the Sweet 16 in Class B, the same point for Troy in the Class A tournament and Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes in Class D. The Colts and Lakers also featured young squads.
On the expansion front, Clarkston Everest Collegiate featured its first varsity team and will play in the Catholic League next school year.
That was just the tip of the iceberg of the success enjoyed by area teams and individuals in 2011.
There were eight All-State players from this region, the highest number in years, plus 22 players earned All-Region by the coaches association. Beyond that, dozens of players garnered all-conference honors while several others received scholarship offers to play at various levels of collegiate athletics.
On the 2011 All-North Oakland Area Volleyball Team, the region expanded to include Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Holly and Ortonville Brandon for the fall 2011 sports season. The All-Area squad, selected by NOS staff in conjunction with area coaches’ opinions, is broken down into four teams of seven players each, plus honorable mentions.
Lake Orion’s Bob Howey was tabbed as Coach of the Year after leading the Dragons to the state runner-up finish.
Below are the profiles of the players named to the first four teams, plus Coach of the Year:
SHANNON MURDOCK, Lake Orion, 6-0 sr. OH: This three-year starter is a repeat performer on the All-Area First Team as she was a feared opponent at the net during her stellar career. An All-State Honorable Mention selection in Class A along with being an All-OAA Red Division and All-Region honoree, Murdock has garnered plenty of interest from NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III schools. This season the Dragons’ Team MVP had 599 kills with a .440 percentage off her attacks. She also had 71 aces, 301 service points, a .910 serve percentage, a 2.1 serve-percentage rating, 65 blocks and 464 digs for a team that won 54 games and played an extremely tough schedule.
“Shannon took us to a No. 3 state ranking during the season, 54 wins on the season, district and regional championships, the state quarterfinals and semifinals wins and a state runner up trophy,” said coach Bob Howey.
MADDIE LIGHTFOOT, Clarkston, 5-4 sr. L: The Wolves’ energizer bunny was also one of the state’s most underrated talents. Only earning All-OAA Red Division and All-Region status, Lightfoot served up 68 aces this season but was at her prime on defense, scooping up 936 digs with an impressive .892 dig efficiency. She had the ability to get to many balls that most high school athletes could not get to.
“Maddie had an outstanding career for Clarkston,” said Avenall. “She was a three-year starter and developed a hard-nosed, defensive attitude. She made some outstanding, match-winning digs for us all season long.”
MADDIE HUTCHINSON, Lake Orion, 5-6 sr. L: An old-school three-sport athlete, who also plays basketball and soccer, Hutchinson had an incredible senior campaign. The two-year captain earned the school’s Dragon Award to go along with All-OAA Red Division, All-Region and All-State First Team honors. She picked up 1,009 digs, 31 kills, 59 assists, 63 aces, 323 service points, a .900 serve percentage and a 2.2 serve receive rating.
“Maddie was a team leader on and off the court,” said Howey.
LIZ KALUGAR, Lake Orion, 5-9 sr. OH: An athletic jumping jack, Kalugar had the ability to soar high above the net and with quick hands punish opponents with some vicious kills. Named All-OAA Red Division, All-Region and All-State Second Team, along with the team’s Green Award, Kalugar was second on the team with 430 kills and a .370 kill percentage. She added 28 aces, 232 service points, a .920 serve percentage, a 2.1 serve receive rating, 36 blocks and 363 digs.
DARCY JOHNSTON, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, 5-11sr. MH: A talented multi-sport athlete who graduates with 10 varsity letters, Johnston has now earned All-State honors in both soccer and volleyball, as she garnered All-State Honorable Mention Class C this past fall. Also a first-team All-MIAC Blue Division and All-Region selection, Johnston had a .371 kill efficiency, served at a .930 clip with 61 aces, posted a .880 passing percentage, collected 82 blocks, 375 kills and 4.8 digs a game, which showcased her all-around ability on the court. Her older sister, Dana Johnston, was also a standout volleyball player at Oakland Christian.
“Darcy has been on the varsity volleyball team all four high school years,” said coach Pricilla Larned. “She has received varsity letters in volleyball, basketball and soccer. She has been a very positive leader in all sports. She will be playing soccer at Grace College in Indiana.”
STEPHANIE MARANI, Clarkston, 6-1 sr. MH:The three-year varsity player collected 163 blocks
and 452 kills on the season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of her importance to the program. Marani ranks at or near the top of the school records board in every blocks and hitting category for a single-season, game or career and helped lead the Wolves to three long postseason runs, including the Sweet 16 in 2009, the Elite Eight in 2010 and the Final four in 2011. The Team MVP was named to the All-OAA Red Division, All-Region and All-State Second Team Class A this season. She will likely continue her career at Princeton.
“Stephanie was a three-year starter at middle hitter for Clarkston,” said coach Kelly Avenall. “She is one of the best middle hitters Clarkston has had. She now holds five school records in blocking and hitting. Stephanie was such an imposing figure at the net, both offensively and defensively. Clarkston has been so successful the past three years, in big part, because of what Stephanie has done for the program.”
RACHEL DICKERSON, Clarkston, 5-9 jr. OH: After coming off the bench as a sophomore, where Dickerson was just chomping at the bits, she was a force to be reckoned with for the Wolves in 2011. The All-OAA Red Division, All-Region and All-State Third Team honoree blasted a team-best 462 kills and also added 33 aces, 53 blocks and 506 digs for a team that won over 40 games for the third straight season.
“Rachel led Clarkston in Kills this season,” said Avenall. “If there was a side-out to be had, a match-point to be gotten, we made sure that we fed Rachel the ball. She plays best under pressure and was able to close out a lot of matches for Clarkston because of this ability.”
TIA JURKIW, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 5-6 sr. S: The Fighting Irish fought through a rebuilding campaign to finish as a quality opponent and Jurkiw was one of the reasons why. The two-time All-CHSL selection also earned All-Region and the team’s Fighting Irish award. Jurkiw’s steady play was on display in the Class B state tournament, where NDP eventually put it all together and made a run to the regional finals.
“She was the glue that held our team together as the freshman and sophomores learned to play at the speed of a varsity match,” said coach Betty Wroubel.
MARISSA AIELLO, Auburn Hills Avondale, 6-0 sr. MH: A three-year starter in the middle, Aiello was one of the few holdovers from a district championship team in 2010. As a senior, Aiello still had a monster season leading the Yellowjackets in blocks and kills and earning All-OAA Blue Division, All-Region and Class A All-State Honorable Mention honors. She is being recruited by Division I and Division II schools.
STEPHANIE SIKORSKI, Rochester, 5-8 jr. S: While Rochester played through a rebuilding campaign under a new coaching staff and several new players, Sikorski still had the reputation of being one of the top setters in Oakland County. The three-year varsity performer led Rochester to a 27-21-7 record and earned Team MVP, All-OAA Red Division and All-Region status. She led her team with 39 aces with 560 assists and 5.9 assists per game. She has garnered plenty of college interest and also plays on a nationally-ranked Legacy Volleyball club team.
“Stephanie is the hardest working and most deserving of placement
postseason awards,” said coach Lauren Duquette. “She was a standout player for us and numerous times throughout the season I was approached by opponents’ coaches who commented on her talent.”
LISA KISIL, Rochester Stoney Creek, 5-7 sr. OH/DS: Another talented player who played all-around, the hard-hitting and consistent Kisil collected 179 kills, 56 aces and 181 digs this season. Over 83 games, she did not find the sidelines too often. A four-year varsity player and team captain, Kisil led Stoney Creek to the OAA Blue Division title and 21-10-3 record and earned All-OAA and All-Region honors for her efforts.
“Lisa was not only a leader for our team but was one of the major reasons
for our success this season,” said coach Katie Pederson. “She was our most consistent passer on serve receive and a very smart player that helped keep us in many games.”
SOPHIE MURDOCK, Lake Orion, 6-3 jr. MH: One of the many weapons in the Dragons’ deep arsenal of front-court players, Murdock earned All-Region honors this season for a team that enjoyed the best season in school history. She collected 11 blocks, 385 kills, a .440 attacking percentage and a .530 kill percentage, as over half of her quality attacks fell to the ground for a team point.
GWEN MOTLEY, Lake Orion, 5-8 sr. S: Sitting in the shadows of four other All-Region athletes, Motley was a little bit of an underrated talent on the area’s deepest team. The winner of the Dragons Sportsmanship Award, Motley also earned All-Region honors. She had an area-best 1,259 assists to go along with 305 service points, 48 aces, a. 890 serve percentage,15 blocks, 235 digs and 34 kills.
NICOLE HAHN, Troy, 6-0 jr. OH: Troy recorded the area’s best turnaround from going 0-8 in league play with a first-round district loss in 2010 to a 7-0 league record and OAA White Division title with a run to the regional finals and Hahn played a big part in that success story. The All-OAA White Division honoree played in 110 games with 298 kills, a.344 kill percentage, 36 blocks, 360 total points, 92 digs, a.930 serve percentage and 32 aces.
“Nicole is Troy’s best all-around player,” said coach Ed Rule. “She is the first player I have coached that moves Right to Left to Middle in one match and be an impact at all three attacking / blocking roles. She has an excellent attitude, hard worker and competitor who has worked her way into a great volleyball player.”
KATELYN BEARSE, Oxford, 5-11 sr. OH: After injuries slowed her freshman volleyball and track seasons, Bearse bounced back with a fine sophomore campaign. She was among the team leaders in multiple hitting and blocking categories and was the Wildcats’ highest rated player at the end of the season, earning All-OAA Red Division honors in a league that featured two final Four teams and five total all-staters. She is part of a deep sophomore class of volleyball players at Oxford.
HALEY HOWELL, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes 5-11 jr. S: The Lakers had a grand turnaround season that featured a 20-9-6 overall record and a district championship and much can be attributed to the steady hands of Howell. The junior served up 80 aces I 368 serves and served at an .853 clip. She added 121 kills but her biggest asset was ball-handling. She had 1,726 sets that resulted in 515 assists, good for a 5.9 average per game.
“She was my team captain and many times was so determined to win, our
team couldn’t help but follow through,” said coach Stephanie Linz. “All of my starters are returning next season, so after this season’s success. I am very excited to see how far we go next year.”
DANI MCCORMICK, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 6-0 soph. MH: In her first season as a starter, McCormick developed into a promising front court player and eventually earned All-CHSL and all-Region recognition. She recorded a .274 kills percentage with 311 kills in 799 chances. She also displayed a wicked serve and led the Irish in aces while serving at a .980 clip.
“Dani’s one of the players who improved the most throughout a season that I have coached,” said Wroubel.
OLIVIA PARKS, Troy, 5-11 jr. OH: The transfer from California made a huge impact on the Colts, helping them claim league and district titles and 25 wins on the season. The All-OAA White Division honoree splayed in 90 games and slammed 290 kills, posted a .321 kill percentage, 16 blocks, 320 total points, 102 digs, an .840 serve percentage and 23 aces.
“Olivia is Troy’s super sophomore,” said Rule. “She has far exceeded expectations and hits the ball a ton. She has one of the best arm swings and finishes in the area. Her all-around game has improved to the point of being one of our stars.”
JENNIFER GERLACH, Rochester Adams 5-10 jr. OH/MH: While Adams ventured through an injury-plagued rebuilding season with a 16-27-4 ledger, this multi-sport athlete was a bright spot on the attack for Adams. The Highlanders’ Team MVP and All-OAA Red Division selection, Gerlach had 351 kills, a .850 serve percentage, 76 aces, 47 blocks and 214 digs. She is also a high jumper and middle distance runner on the Highlanders’ track team that won a regional championship last spring.
“Jennifer played with great intensity all year long,” said coach Raey Zoellner. “She was an all-around player who excelled at each skill of the game.”
DANIELLE COOPER, Troy Athens, 5-5 sr. L: The senior earned All-OAA White Division and All-Region status. She led 47-32-0 Athens with 329 digs and served up 41 aces this season. She was also named MVP of the Daily Tribune tournament and was perhaps the Red Hawks’ most consistent player this season.
“She was one of our captains and a leader out there for us,” said coach. “She was very consistent, very energetic. When she was on, it made the rest of the team better around her.”
HANNAH STRAT, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, 5-4 soph. L/DS: On a team loaded with first-year starters or varsity performers, Strat came on strong and developed into one of the area’s top back row talents. This season her steady defensive play led to All-CHSL, All-Region and All-State Honorable Mention honors in Class B.
“Hannah is consistent defender who took over at the libero position due to an injury and played rock solid down the stretch and earned All-State Honorable Mention recognition,” said Wroubel.
ABIGAIL BRYSON, Lake Orion Baptist 5-2 jr. S: this third-year starter was named the MVP of the Fundamental Baptist Athletic Conference Red Division despite her team finishing in the middle of the pack. Although not flashy, Bryson had high setting and serving averages, best in the conference.
“She’s the most consistent player on the team,” said coach Leigh Ann Bryson. “She’s a great hitter and server.”
STACI GREEN, Troy Bethany Christian, 5-4 sr. S: A four-year starter, Green played on four teams that reached the state semifinals of the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Division I Final Four. She was a steady hand both as perhaps the school’s all-time leader in assists as a setter or from the service line.
ALLISE DUBAY, Rochester Hills Christian, 5-2 sr. DS/S: A four-year starter and threes-port all-league pick, Dubay earned All-FBAC Red Division honors for the second straight year in helping the Eagles gain a share of the league title for the second straight season. Dubay is also one of the top basketball and soccer players in the FBAC and led her girls soccer team to a MACS Division I state runner-up trophy as a junior and her basketball team to the MACS-I Final Four last school year as well.
“She’s just a great all-around athlete,” said coach Mindy Thompson.
ALEX CAPORUSCIO, Rochester Stoney Creek, 5-8 jr. S: Another consistent performer, the steady hands of Caporuscio helped lead the Cougars to their first league championship. Over 88 games, she dished up 520 assists, served up a single-season school record 99 aces, had 111 digs and broke the state record with 22 aces in a game against Oak Park.
“Alexa is not only a very hard-worker, but a great athlete,” said Pederson. “She makes every pass look perfect and settable and makes every hitter look awesome. She controlled our entire offense and ran the court.
LINDSAY MOELLER, Troy, 5-11 jr. S: Earning the Colt of the Year Award and All-OAA Red Division honors, Moeller turned some heads by recording 46 assists in a three-game match this season, which ranks amongst the top 10 in state history in that category. Playing in 103 games this season, Moeller had 69 kills, a .278 kill percentage, 13 blocks and 108 total points but was more gifted as a set-up player and defensive presence. She recorded 218 digs, served at a .920 clip with 28 aces, picked up 1,017 assists, one of three local players to record over 1,000 assists this season, and had 9.9 assists per game. That number alone shows her worth.
“She’s our quarterback. Lindsay has gained respect from other teams in the league by demonstrating her strength to set the ball from anywhere and ability to run the offense,” said Rule. “She has improved her defensive weaknesses and her setting range to put her in the top of the area’s setters.”
KALEY KONJAREVICH, Clarkston, 5-11 jr. OH: One of four Wolves to earn both All-OAA Red Division and All-Region honors, Konjarevich was the third weapon in Clarkston’s deep well of attackers. She finished the season with 422 kills, 469 digs, 35 blocks and 71 aces, showcasing her all-around ability.
DARIEN BANDEL, Oxford, 5-11 soph. MH: This two-year varsity performer stepped up to become at times the Wildcats’ most thrilling player as a sophomore. One of Oxford’s leaders in multiple offensive categories, Bandel has two more years and plenty of upside to become a dominant front-court player.
COACH OF THE YEAR
BOY HOWEY, Lake Orion: In his fifth season, Howey and his staff opted to load up the Dragons’ schedule with some of the toughest tournaments possible. Lake Orion traveled around the state and faced multiple state powerhouse teams in each class, some on numerous occasions. What transpired was the best season in school history.
Lake Orion posted a school record 54-13-3 ledger and finished second in the OAA Red Division at 7-1 with the only loss being to state semifinalist Clarkston in a five-set thriller. Lake Orion also won, finished second or was a semifinalist at seven tournaments throughout the regular season.
In Class A state tournament, Lake Orion captured only its fourth district crown in 25 years and second straight and won its second regional title in school history, the first since 1988. The regional trophy included a triumph over defending state champion Birmingham Marian in the regional semifinals.
The Dragons also won its state quarterfinal match with a late rally over Macomb Dakota and avenged Clarkston in the state semifinals before succumbing to Rockford, 3-0, in the state title match.
Howey is also an assistant softball coach at Lake Orion and has been involved with youth volleyball and softball for many years in the area.
2011 ALL-NORTH OAKLAND AREA GIRLS VOLLEYBALL TEAM
Shannon Murdock Lake Orion 6-0 Sr. OH
Maddie Lightfoot Clarkston 5-4 Sr. L
Maddie Hutchinson Lake Orion 5-6 Sr. L
Liz Kalugar Lake Orion 5-9 Sr. OH
Darcy Johnston A.H. Oakland Chr. 5-11 Sr. MH
Stephanie Marani Clarkston 6-1 Sr. MH
Rachel Dickerson Clarkston 5-9 Jr. OH
Tia Jurkiw Notre Dame Prep 5-6 Sr. S
Marissa Aiello A.H. Avondale 6-0 Sr. MH
Lisa Kisil Roch. Stoney Creek 5-7 Sr. OH
Stephanie Sikorski Rochester 5-8 Jr. S
Sophie Murdock Lake Orion 6-3 Jr. MH
Gwen Motley Lake Orion 5-8 Sr. S
Nicole Hahn Troy 6-0 Jr. OH
Haley Howell WOLL 5-11 Jr. S
Dani McCormick Notre Dame Prep 6-0 So. MH
Olivia Parks Troy 5-11 Jr. OH
Katelyn Bearse Oxford 5-11 So. OH
Jennifer Gerlach Rochester Adams 5-10 Jr. OH
Danielle Cooper Troy Athens 5-5 Sr. L
Hannah Strat Notre Dame Prep 5-4 So. L/DS
Abigail Bryson Lake Orion Baptist 5-2 Jr. S
Staci Green Troy Bethany Chr. 5-4 Sr. S
Allise Dubay Roch. Hills Chr. 5-4 Sr. DS/S
Alex Caporuscio Roch. Stoney Creek 5-8 Sr. S
Lindsay Moeller Troy 5-11 Jr. S
Kaley Konjarevich Clarkston 5-11 Jr. OH
Darien Bandel Oxford 5-11 So. MH
COACH OF THE YEAR
Bob Howey Lake Orion Fifth Season
Auburn Hills Avondale: Morgan Janes, Emily Schaub; Auburn Hills Oakland Christian: Erin Washington, sr. S; Rebecca VanSloten, sr. OH; Auburn Hills Christian Academy: Not available; Clarkston: Breanna Frakes, 5-6 soph. S; Angela Niezgoda, 5-7 sr. DS; Clarkston Everest Collegiate: Not available; Clarkston Springfield Christian: Not available; Holly: Hannah Timm, sr.; Megan Piwowarski, jr.; Ashley Wohlfeil, sr.; Lake Orion Baptist: Miranda Jenkins, 5-6 sr. OH; Ortonville Brandon: Anna Fochesato, sr.; Breanna Lauinger, sr.; Ashlee Roussey, jr.; Oxford: Not available; Pontiac Notre Dame Prep: Katherine Carlson, fr. OH; Rochester: Catie Wiacek, 5-8 soph. OH; Mackenzie Irvine, 5-10 sr. OH/MH; Rochester Adams: Not available; Rochester Stoney Creek: Olivia Radke, Sam Wingerter; Rochester Hills Christian: Jenna Porter, 5-9 fr. OH; Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest: Megan Hamilton, Haley Todd; Troy: Laney Hart, 5-2 sr. DS/L; Jenn Thompson, 5-11 jr.OH; Troy Athens: Lisa Lavelanet, 5-8 sr. S; Rachel Senepole, 5-10 sr. OH; Troy Bethany Christian: Lianna Sprankle, 5-7 jr. OH; Troy Christian Leadership Academy: Not available; Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes: Kelly Meehan, 5-4 jr. L; Lexie Robak, 5-9 jr. OH; Kristina Krupiak, 5-7 soph. OH.
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