By John Raffel
One legend continued while another came to an end, albeit a voluntary one, during the state volleyball finals Nov. 22 at Battle Creek.
St. Philip Catholic Central continued its mastery of Division 4 with its ninth straight state title.
St. Mary Catholic Central coach Diane Tuller ended her career by winning her fifth state title in Division 3. She had decided this will be the last season.
Romeo defeated Novi 3-2 in Class A and North Branch got the best of Lakewood in Class B, while St. Phllip and St. Mary got the job done in D and C.
It’s the 20th overall state title for St. Phillip, which was led by the hitting of Abby McKinzie. The scores were 25-18, 25-18, 23-25, 25-17, and the season ended at 53-12-4 for the champs. Their coach, Vicky Groat, has a 17-year record of 962-189-80.
All four games in Class C were very dramatic.
Schoolcraft took the first one 25-23, but then St. Mary prevailed 29-27, 25-20, 25-22.
Cassandra Haut had a huge day, with 23 kills, followed by Skylar Iott with 15. Sydney McGinn added 48 assists, and Abigal Thompson had 16 digs.
Tuller ended her career of 17 years with a 594-188-51 record. “It’s not so much the state championship that means a lot to me now,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t sure this team had what it took to get there. They improved and kept working hard and did everything I asked of them. I can get a little screamy at times, but they put up with that. They worked really hard. They did it.”
The players were happy with the timing of their championship. “I’m glad we could leave her with something,” Haut said.
St Mary had to change the match around in the second game, Tuller acknowledged. “I don’t know if it was so much adjustments, but we were trying to cover the cross-court kill,” she said. “We were getting beat in the middle, so we had to go to a two-man block. Mostly it was moving our feet. I think we have a stronger defensive team than they do.”