Marian and Mercy volleyball face challenges in new season

Marian sophomore Allie Davison (left), freshman Sophia Smith and junior Izzy Busignani are all smiles after outlasting Pontiac Notre Dame in an early-season match. “We always enjoy the challenge” Busignani said. “Even though we’re really young, we’re willing to put in the work to get better.” (Photo by Don Horkey / Special to Detroit Catholic)

PONTIAC – “Our ceiling is high.”

That’s the challenge Coach Mayssa Cook and her energetic Bloomfield Hills Marian volleyball teams has to deal with in the wake of three consecutive state and Catholic High School League championship seasons.

At archrival Farmington Hills Mercy, who was the immediate predecessor to Marian’s streak as state champions and three-time CHSL champs, Coach Loretta Vogel is waiting for Campbell Flynn to come home.

The Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association seems to think that Marian is on its way down from its high perch, and Mercy on its way up. In their most recent rankings, coaches left Marian out of the Division 1 top 10, while Mercy was rated No. 7.

The Mustangs graduated eight members from last year’s championship roster. Gone is first-team All-American and Michigan Player of the Year Ava Sarafa, whose 5,092 career assists are 15th place all-time in the MaxPreps Volleyball National High School Record Book.

Also graduated was second-team All-American libero Lauren Heming, who made Marian click with her defense and passing. She had 1,598 career digs.

This season’s roster includes three seniors, four juniors, two sophomores and seven freshmen. Anchoring Marian’s offense is 6-foot-1 outsider hitter Izzy Busignani, who as a sophomore was an All-American honoree. She has compiled a career total of 749 kills built on an outstanding 42.6% kill rate.

Last Tuesday, Marian and Pontiac Notre Dame (No. 8 in Division 2) engaged in an early- season contest that had all the aura and intensity of mid-season. The squads tied a dozen times before sophomore setter Allie Davison and Busignani slammed back-to-back kills for a 28-26

victory for Marian, which went on to win the second set 25-20.

Davison in 13 matches this year has 253 assists, which Cook said is “on par with Sarafa’s sophomore year. She’s doing a nice job running the offense.”

“At moments in set 2,” Cook said, “we looked a lot more refined with better chemistry overall.” She added: “But I learned that we have a long way to go but there’s promise.”

Marian won 137 of 141 sets during the 2020, 2021 and 2023 seasons. They’ve won 25 of 30 sets in 13 matches, going 11-2 in the process, before the Labor Day break. The losses came against Brighton (No. 5 in Division 1) and South Lyon East.

Marian tops the CHSL Central Division with 3-0 set sweeps against Toledo Central Catholic and Dearborn Divine Child.

The Central Division pennant could be decided Oct. 4 when Marian and Mercy clash on Marian’s floor at 7 p.m.

The coming of Campbell Flynn

“Everything will change night and day.”

That’s what the arrival of junior setter Campbell Flynn means for the Mercy volleyball future, according to Coach Loretta Vogel. “She’s special.”

Flynn returned home over the Labor Day weekend after playing for the USA Volleyball U19 gold-medal team (a grueling 9 matches in 11 days) in Osijek, Croatia, and on the Women’s U21 World Championship on Aug. 17-26 in Mexico.

“We’ll give her a couple weeks to rest before she joins the team,” Vogel said.

In her freshman and sophomore seasons at Mercy, the 6-foot-2 Flynn was an all-around performer producing 1,357 assists, 193 aces, 526 digs and 74 total blocks.

In June, she announced her commitment to play for the University of Nebraska after her graduation in 2025.

This fall so far, Mercy has a 7-6-1 match record (17-15 in sets). They lost their lone CHSL Central Division match (25-20, 25-16, 25-19) to Toledo St. Ursula Academy.

“We’re happy with what we are doing,” Vogel said. “We’ve put girls in different positions, playing a lot, showing us what they can do.”

Freshman Kate Kalczynski has impressed with 142 kills, 18 aces and 73 digs.

“I’ve known her since she was 2 or 3 years old,” Vogel said. “She’s grown up around

volleyball. She’s willing to learn.” Her mother Angela is an assistant coach for Mercy.

Junior Keira McNutt may be somewhat relieved to cede her setter’s duties with Flynn’s arrival. She’s done a creditable job with 258 assists.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected]



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