Marian wins fourth CHSL volleyball title, faces challenge for fourth state crown

Marian won its fourth league championship in a row against a scrappy Toledo St. Ursula Academy squad. The Mustangs face a daunting challenge to win their fourth consecutive state crown. (Don Horkey | Special to Detroit Catholic)

ANN ARBOR — Bloomfield Hills Marian in the last three years has dominated high school volleyball locally and statewide: three consecutive Catholic High School League Bishop Division championships and three consecutive Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 championships.

On Oct. 12 in the CHSL finals hosted by Fr. Gabriel Richard High School, Marian won its fourth league championship in a row, 25-23, 15-25, 25-17, 25-23, against a scrappy Toledo St. Ursula Academy squad.

The Mustangs (33-6) initiate their quest for a fourth state championship Oct. 30 on their own floor against Birmingham Seaholm (6-6).

However, there is a big difference between now and then. For three years, Marian was atop the ratings looking down upon all their challengers for the big prize. Now, Marian’s point of view is bottom-up from the No. 10 ranking, a distance from No. 1 Northville, whom they beat for the title a year ago.

Marian has squared off against four of the teams rated above them, winning three of seven games: losses to Northville, to No. 4 Brighton, and a split of four contests against fellow CHSL opponent No. 6 Farmington Hills Mercy, and a win over No. 7 Jenison.

Cook, in her seventh season at Marian, has probably the youngest squad she’s had to date: just two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and seven freshmen.

Junior Izzy Busignani is the only returning starter from the 2023 champs.

“She’s the one we depend upon a lot,” Cook said. The 6-foot-1 outsider hitter, who as a sophomore was an All-American honoree, has compiled a career total of 1,220 kills.

Busignani had 19 kills against St. Ursula, including one for the 24th point followed by a game-clinching service ace.

“I’m happy to see that the young players have been a lot more of a supporting cast and not like early on. Izzy truly had to carry the entire team,” Cook said.

She pointed out several players who she said “stepped up” against St. Ursula: Senior Dani Mertz had 14 kills and seven service points (a team-leading 191 for the season); freshman Calli LeFevre with 10 digs (232 season); freshman Sophie Smith with four blocks; junior libero with Maria Odeesh 11 digs; sophomore Allie Davison directed the offense with 33 assists (season 935).

The game was similar to an earlier encounter on Sept. 27 in which the Mustangs prevailed in five sets.

“It could have gone either way,” Cook said. “Skill wise, it’s a toss-up. It came down to whoever made the least amount of errors.” Marian had four fewer.

St. Ursula (14-8), ranked 15th in Division 1 in Ohio, had major contributions from senior Lucy Mott (47 assists and 11 service points), junior libero Devin Dzienny (18 digs), and a combined 47 kills by seniors Colleen Nudd (17), Olivia Batch (16) and Erynn Moloney (14).

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].


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