It’s never safe to assume anything, but Mercy’s Jess Mruzik winning the 2019 Miss Volleyball Award was a pretty safe assumption.
Mruzik will finish her prep career at Mercy this week and wind up as one of the most accomplished volleyball players the state has ever seen.
On Monday, it was officially announced that Mruzik was the winner of the prestigious Miss Volleyball Award, recognizing the top player in the state over a four-year prep career.
“I can’t put into words what it means for our program at Mercy,” Mercy coach Loretta Vogel said of Mruzik winning the award, becoming the second Mercy player in program history to collect the honor. “We are very fortunate to get some of the individuals we had in this program. (2011 winner Maddy Doyle) was special and certainly Jess is a special player and person. I really was hoping she would be recognized for this honor. She’s worked so hard for our program.”
Mruzik was surprised by the school during a ceremony where she signed her National Letter of Intent to join the Michigan Wolverines in 2020. Following her signing, she was presented with the award.
Mruzik has been a four-year player for the Marlins, earning third team All-State honors as a freshman and first team All-State honors as a sophomore and as a junior.
She has led Mercy to Battle Creek and the state semifinals in 2017 and 2018, and has the top-ranked Marlins in a Division 1 quarterfinal match against L’Anse Creuse North on Tuesday night.
“When Jess came in as a freshman, we recognized just how talented she was,” Vogel said. “She was a starter for us from the get-go and each year she returned to us in the fall, she came back stronger, more athletic and mentally tougher.”
This season, Mruzik has tallied up 415 kills for the Marlins while hitting an impressive .534 on her attacks. She also has 42 aces and 172 digs while being a mentor for her younger teammates.
“Jess is just a great role model for the younger players,” Vogel said. “She’s always been very approachable in the gym and been very willing to help anyone that is younger. Jess has always conducted herself as a great individual that other people can look up to. She never puts herself above anyone. That’s just not Jess.”
While Miss Volleyball is focused on a player’s high school career, it’s impossible to not acknowledge the things Mruzik has been able to accomplish away from Mercy in recent years.
In 2018, she was team MVP of the U.S. Girls’ Youth National Team in the NORCECA Girls’ U18 Continental Championship in Honduras. Earlier this fall, Mruzik was once again named MVP of an international event. This time it was the FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship in Egypt, where she helped lead Team USA to the championship.
In club volleyball, Mruzik has been named a two-time All-American with Legacy Volleyball Club. This past club season, she led Legacy 18-Elite to an AAU U18 national championship while earning national Player of the Year honors.
“She’s had to work pretty hard to get to this point and become an elite-level volleyball player. With all the honors and awards she has won, I am sure it would be hard for her not to know she’s a special player, but you’d never know it from the way she carries herself,” Legacy Volleyball Club co-owner and Club Director Jennifer Cottrill said. “She’s never been someone that has put herself above her teammates or the team. Her teammates respect her a great deal because she is so genuine and so humble.”
Following this final week of the 2019 MHSAA season, Mruzik will graduate from Mercy in December and enroll at Michigan in January.
“Michigan is getting a great player and a great young woman,” Vogel said. “It’s just been a real pleasure for us at Mercy having Jess in our gym and in our school. I met her when she was in seventh grade and it’s been my absolute pleasure to be able to coach her and see her grow into the individual she has become. We will miss her a great deal.”