St. Mary CC takes Class C title
Battle Creek – Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central spent over half of the season with the No. 1 ranking target on its back. No team was able to permanently knock the Kestrels from that perch during the postseason.
St. Mary CC rallied back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat No. 2 Schoolcraft with a 3-1 victory over the Eagles in the MHSAA Class C state finals at Kellogg Arena.
Schoolcraft won the first set, 25-23, while St. Mary CC rallied back with wins of 29-27, 25-20, and 25-22 to win its fifth title overall and third in five seasons.
St. Mary’s CC also won titles in 2012, 2010 winter 2007 and 2003, while the Kestrels lost in the championship match in 2011 and 1991.
Diane Tuller, who has molded St. Mary CC into a perennial state powerhouse, coached her final game in the prep ranks.
“What a way to go out,” smiled Tuller, who finishes with a with a 594-188-51 record as a head coach of the Kestrels.
“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t know if this team had what it takes to win the championship, but they kept getting better and better as the season went along and found a way to do it,” added Tuller.
After dropping the first set, St. Mary CC found itself in an all-out war in Game 2, as the match was tied at four times after 24-24. The Kestrels finally escaped with the 29-27 victory in the set to tie the match at 1-1.
The momentum switch favored St. Mary CC after that point.
“(Even if we would have lost) the second game, I do think we have the right type of mentality to come back,” said Tuller. “Our defense was a little better than theirs, we have two good outside hitters. Our right side hitter can really bring it. We play so well together. But winning the second game (was crucial).”
Cassandra Haut slammed 23 kills and Skylar Iott added 15 kills for St. Mary CC. Sydney McGinn contributed 48 assists in 138 attacking attempts and Abigail Thompson added 16 digs.
“Being that its coach’s last year, we really wanted to win it for her more than anything,” said Haut. “We wanted to send her out the right way with a state championship.”
Jayci Suseland slammed 20 kills and Marinna Douglas finished the day 38-for-43 attacking with 17 kills and 14 digs for Schoolcraft (47-11-1). Sarah Wisser added 44 assists and 11 digs for the Eagles.
Schoolcraft coach Erin Onken knew it would be crucial for her team to take a two-game lead on the state’s top-ranked team.
“If we win the second game, who knows?” she said. “I still am so happy for these girls, our fans, (and) our school for getting here. We had an amazing season.”