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VOLLEYBALL POSTSEASON OVERVIEW: Who and what to look out for in the 2019 MHSAA volleyball playoffs

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, November 4, 2019, 3:01 pm

Monday evening, the first serve of the 2019 volleyball postseason will go up, with every team in the state vying for one of four divisional state championships. The average team will need six or seven wins to get them to the final four at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Center on Nov. 21-23, and two more to claim a state championship. Here’s an overview of the 2019 postseason, with who to look out for and what path ranked teams and defending champs may have to follow to get to the final day of the season: 

DIVISION 1

Defending champion: Lake Orion (68-6)

Last year’s final four: Lake Orion, Rockford (47-12-1), Farmington Hills Mercy (52-3), Northville (47-7-1)

Miss Volleyball candidates: Celia Cullen, S/RS, Brighton; Jess Mruzik, OH, Farmington Hills Mercy; Kendall Murray, OH, Ann Arbor Skyline; Alexa Rousseau, S, Bloomfield Hills; Ashley Slater, OH, Grand Haven; Allie Wiese, L, Mattawan

Returning MIVCA all-staters:  FIRST TEAM: Wiese; Cullen; Mruzik; Julia Bishop, S, Farmington Hills Mercy, Sr. SECOND TEAM: Jenna Reitsma, OH, Lowell, Jr.; Taylor Rutgers, OH, Mattawan, Sr.; Natalie Foster, MH, Mattawan, Sr.; Murray; Kate Stration, OH, Stoney Creek, Sr.; Christine Audette, OH, Bloomfield Hills Marian, Sr.; Sydney Smith, RS, Lake Orion, Sr. THIRD TEAM: Slater; Meghan Meyer, MH, Lowell, Sr.; Riley Homer, OH, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, Sr.; Rousseau; Charli Atiemo, MH, Farmington Hills Mercy, Jr.; Clare McNamara, MH/OH, Northville, Sr.

Top five teams in the final regular-season MIVCA poll: No. 1 Mercy, No. 2 Lowell, No. 3 Mattawan, No. 4 Hudsonville, No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Marian.

Road to a championship: The defending champion Dragons (33-15) are an HM in the final MIVCA poll, and have a Monday night matchup with No. 6 Clarkston (42-5). Whoever gets past that would likely get No. 9 Stoney Creek and HM Bloomfield Hills in regionals, then wouldn’t get another ranked team until the semis, when they could see No. 2 Lowell, No. 3 Mattawan, No. 4 Hudsonville, No. 7 Byron Center or No. 8 Grand Haven from the stacked west side of the bracket. No. 1 Mercy and No. 5 Marian would likely meet again in regionals, then could face the winner of the district matchup between No. 10 Ann Arbor Skyline and HM Saline or whichever team (HM Novi or Northville) gets out of the district at Northville.

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[For all of the volleyball district pairings, CLICK HERE.]

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DIVISION 2

Defending champion: Grand Rapids Christian (46-5)

Last year’s final four: GR Christian, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (64-6), Lake Odessa Lakewood (46-9-2), Corunna (50-7-5)

Miss Volleyball candidates: Jordyn Gates, S, Grand Rapids Christian; Elizabeth Norris, MH, Corunna

Returning MIVCA all-staters:  FIRST TEAM: Meredith O’Gorman, RS, Lakewood, Soph.; Gates; Addie VanderWeide, OH, GR Christian, Jr.; Aubrey O’Gorman, MH, Lakewood, Jr.; Norris. SECOND TEAM: Aubrey Bates, S, Coopersville, Sr.; Makenzie Bonnell, S, Marshall, Sr.; Abby Welke, OH, Marshall, Jr.; Taylor Wegener, MH, Ida, Sr. THIRD TEAM: Austyn DeWeese, MH, Kingsley, Sr.; Abby Olin, MH, Coopersville, Jr.; Olivia Webber, Marshall, Jr.; Abigail Wilcoxson, MH, Parma-Western, Sr.; Alyssa Borellis, OH/S/MH, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Soph.

Top five teams in the final regular-season MIVCA poll: No. 1 Grand Rapids Christian, No. 2 Coopersville, No. 3 Hamilton, No. 4 Lake Odessa Lakewood, No. 5 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

Road to a championship: The defending champ Eagles don’t have an impossible path to a repeat, likely having to face No. 2 Coopersville or HM Montague in regionals, then meet in regionals the survivor of the likely district matchup of No. 9 Holland Christian and No. 3 Hamilton, with a semifinal match-up of No. 6 Kingsley or HMs Cadillac and Corunna. If they keep advancing, No. 4 Lakewood probably won’t meet a ranked team until No. 7 Parma Western or HM Onsted in regionals. No. 5 Notre Dame Prep and No. 8 Detroit Country Day are in the same district at NDP, but the winner won’t face many ranked teams in the top quarter of the bracket.

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DIVISION 3

Defending champion: Bronson (58-6)

Last year’s final four: Bronson, Unionville-Sebewaing Area (44-5-4), Traverse City St. Francis (34-14), Monroe St. Mary CC (45-4)

Miss Volleyball candidates: Keona Salesman, OH, Bronson; Andelyn Simkins, Schoolcraft

Returning MIVCA all-staters:  FIRST TEAM: Simkins; Salesman; Callie Bauer, OH/S, Hudson, Jr.; Mikayla Haut, OH, Monroe St. Mary CC, Jr. SECOND TEAM: Joanna Larsen, OH, Centreville, Sr.; Kayla Onken, S, Schoolcraft, Jr.; Paige Gallentine, OH/S, Brighton Charyl Stockwell, Sr. THIRD TEAM: Sage Schumacher, MH, Beal City, Jr.; Molly Gerow, OH, Beaverton, Jr.; Alexis Strait, S, White Cloud, Jr.; Braelyn Berry, OH, Morley-Stanwood, Soph.; Maggie Morris, MH, Schoolcraft, Jr.; Meagan Lasky, S, Bronson, Jr.; Kayla Engel, OH, Manchester

Top five teams in the final regular-season MIVCA poll: No. 1 Schoolcraft (41-6-1), No. 2 Monroe St. Mary CC (34-2), No. 3 Kalamazoo Christian (42-2-3), No. 4 Muskegon Western Michigan Christian (31-10-3), No. 5 Bronson (48-7-2).

Road to a championship: Defending champ Bronson comes into the postseason as the No. 5-ranked team, and will face a district challenge in No. 8 Centreville, followed by a possible regional matchup with No. 1 Schoolcraft or No. 3 Kalamazoo Christian, before a likely quarterfinal against No. 4 Muskegon Western Michigan Christian or No. 9 Morley Stanwood.  No. 2-ranked Monroe St. Mary CC will likely face another test from No. 6 Brighton Charyl Stockwell in regionals, then HM Hanover-Horton in the quarters, before running into a Northern Michigan team like No. 7 Beaverton or HM Traverse City St. Francis. 

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DIVISION 4

Defending champion: Mendon (49-6-3)

Last year’s final four: Mendon, Leland (47-11-1), Southfield Christian (27-10-3), Carney-Nadeau (26-4-1)

Miss Volleyball candidates: None.

Returning MIVCA all-staters:  FIRST TEAM: Anna Smith, OH, Mendon, Jr.; Emily VanDyke, OH, Southfield Christian, Sr.; Gabriella Kellogg, OH, Plymouth Christian, Sr. SECOND TEAM: Mia Osorio, L, Leland, Jr.; Ashtyn Hescott, MH, Merrill, Sr.; Abby Austin, S, Battle Creek St. Philip, Sr.; Brooke Dzwik, OH, Battle Creek St. Philip, Soph.; Jordan Stump, S/OH, Camden Frontier, Sr. THIRD TEAM: Maddie Hallacy, OPP, Battle Creek St. Philip, Sr.; Ashley Norman, OH, Lansing Christian, Jr.; Alexis Koenig, OH, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, Jr.; Caitlin Warnshuis, OH, Southfield Christian, Sr.; Madison Raymond, L, Plymouth Christian, Sr.

Top five teams in the final regular-season MIVCA poll: No. 1 Battle Creek St. Philip (42-8), No. 2 Mendon (29-8-6), No. 3 Southfield Christian (22-7-4), No. 4 Camden Frontier (19-5-2), No. 5 Leland (34-12-3).

Road to a championship: The defending champion Hornets are the No. 2-ranked team headed into the postseason, but could be facing its biggest hurdle to a repeat in regionals, where they’d likely meet No. 1-ranked St. Philip. The winner of that matchup could get No. 4 Camden-Frontier or No. 8 Adrian Lenawee Christian in regionals. No. 3 Southfield Christian and  No. 9 Plymouth Christian are in the same district, while No. 7 Auburn Hills Oakland Christian heads into the thumb before it would run into its MIAC conference-mates again. On the lower half of the bracket, No. 5 Leland could get HM Traverse City Christian in regionals, but the only other ranked team on that half of the bracket, No. 10 Rudyard, is in the other quarterfinal.