Source: Observer & Eccentric Media
Author: Dan O'Meara
Farmington Hills Mercy came out swinging and scoring points Thursday night in its first volleyball meeting of the season with arch-rival Birmingham Marian.
The Marlins put on an impressive display of offense and won the match between Catholic League powers in four sets, 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 25-12.
“I thought it was awesome,” Mercy senior Colleen Hadley said of her team’s attack. “The outsides really moved the ball around. They went from lines to across; they found the open shots on the court.
“The middles played a huge role, because they really pulled the block. And when there was a split, our setter did a great job of finding the middles.
“Everyone was just on fire. They were really killing it and doing a great job.”
The Marlins spread the offense around. Junior middle Bella McDonald and sophomore outside Lauren Hunter had a dozen kills each, Hadley eight and junior Kennedy Kuffner seven.
Hunter, who played a lot of minutes on the varsity last year, missed 21/2 weeks after twisting an ankle in the first tournament. Her return to the lineup makes the Marlins that much more stronger.
Junior Jordyn Kreucher and freshmen Jaeda Porter and Kylie Kreucher also contributed to the team’s kill total. Junior Elizabeth Susitko was the setter.
“I thought our attacking (was the best part of the Mercy game), picking up what zones were open,” Marlins coach Loretta Vogel said. “You could tell what shots we were scoring on, so that changed what offense we were calling. That made a big difference, also.”
The Marlins were hitting the ball as well as they ever have, despite losing some of their top hitters from last season.
“We’re able to get some aggressive swings,” Hadley said. “It’s a different feel from last year, but I love it. It’s just awesome.
“We played more of a control game last year, placing the ball. We’re still working on control, but we’re a lot more aggressive with our swings. We’re swinging a lot bigger than last year.
“Last year, we were really strong on defense and this year we’re really strong on offense, getting those big swings and putting the ball away.”
Marian rallied to tie the first set, 17-17, before Mercy pulled away at the end with the help of three kills by McDonald.
The Mustangs had the strong finish in the second set after the Marlins had pulled even at 19-19.
Mercy was ahead all the way in the third and overcame an early deficit in the fourth to win going away.
“I think we got tired, to be honest,” Marian coach Angela Kalczynski said. “I think fatigue set in. We were serving at people instead of trying to find seams.
“You have to be at your best when you play a team like that. There can’t be any mental lapses in the serve and serve-receive battle. You have to be consistent from game to game.”
Junior Kate Schafran had 11 kills and 16 digs to lead the Mustangs, who are 0-1 in the league and 15-6 overall.
Junior Emma Sorey had 10 kills, junior Carol Audette eight and sophomore Maggie DePorre six. Sorey and DePorre had three blocks each.
Audette also had 14 digs, freshman Maddie Dowd four aces and junior Marissa Esshaki 36 assists.
“We’ve handled a lot of adversity in the last week,” Kalczynski said, citing injuries and illness affecting players, including two starters. “I’m really proud of the way they performed, being that we have (sophomore middle) Lauren (Wenzel) out and girls who are injured. I’m not making any excuses. We’ve just gone through a lot of adversity.”
The Mustangs, who have only two seniors, are a young team and still learning to play as a varsity unit.
“There were glimpses of what we can do,” Kalczynski said. “We spend a ton of time on serve and receive in practice, but there are times we struggle.
“We play really well for periods of time and then we get sloppy. We have to continue to get better in practice, so that does translate to game situations.”
The Marlins, who are 2-0 in the league with an earlier win over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, have just four seniors among their 18 players.
Junior libero Jackie Kaminski and senior Sloan Horejsi played key roles on defense Thursday.
“We’re not quite halfway through the season, but I feel like we’re just beginning,” Vogel said. “We’re just beginning to piece things together. We’re a young team compared to last year. It’s taking us a little time and we’re figuring that out. I’m happy with the girls.”
“Last year’s seniors did set a high standard, but I think everyone is rising to the occasion,” Hadley said. “We’re meshing and learning to play with each other. As the season progresses, I think we’ll get better and better.
Hadley added the win over Marian is a confidence-builder for the Marlins.
“I think we can use it as we go through the season,” she said. “I think we need to remain humble with the win, but build on it.”