Birmingham Marian looks forward to the opportunity to play defending Class A state champion Novi in a state quarterfinal volleyball match Tuesday night at Troy Athens.
Marian, 48-14, came up short in the Catholic League tournament and now has a chance to pull off a major upset to get to Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena this weekend for the state semifinals and finals.
“We’re thrilled to be playing Novi for a chance to reach Battle Creek,” said Marian coach Angela Kalczynski. “I feel like we’re clicking at the right time. We’re serving tough, offensively we’re balancing our attack. Our setter is playing very well and both of our middles are doing well. We’re playing well as a team.”
Marian, which earned the regional title by sweeping Grosse Pointe North and Sterling Heights Stevenson last week, is led by sophomore setter Madison Dowd, who works with 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter Lauren Wenzel, a Notre Dame commit, and junior outside hitter Maggie Deporre.
“She’s broken our record this year for assists per game in a four-game match and you have to credit our hitters, too, for being able to put the ball away,” said Kalczynski of Dowd, who has more than 1,300 assists this season and is averaging about 10 assists per set.
“We’re pretty young this season, just have one senior in outside hitter Kate Schafran and she’s like the rock of our team, one of our MVPs who doesn’t get a lot of credit, but definitely a reason we are consistent,” Kalczynski said.
Novi is loaded with Division 1 players and have been the top-ranked team all season.
Marian has yet to play Novi, but Kalczynski knows all about their firepower in 5-10 junior setter Erin O’Leary, the premier player in the state and Michigan commit, along with Miss Volleyball runnerup Ally Cummings and 6-1 junior outside hitter Abryanna Cannon, who is committed to Notre Dame.
“They have three or four D1 players and we know we’re the underdogs going in, so we want to be aggressive and serve them tough,” Kalczynski said. “They are a very difficult team to defend. We’re going to have to make adjustments as the game goes on. Our girls are definitely excited. We feel we’re peaking at the right time and we have nothing to lose.”
VOLLEYBALL STATE QUARTERFINALS
ALL GAMES TUESDAY
Novi vs. Birmingham Marian, at Troy Athens, 7 p.m.
Fenton vs. Midland, at Midland Dow, 6 p.m.
Portage Central vs. Rockford, at Grand Haven, 7 p.m.
Temperance Bedford vs. Livonia Churchill, at Gibraltar Carlson, 7 p.m.
St. Clair Shores South Lake vs. North Branch, at Clawson, 7 p.m.
Buchanan vs. Grant, at Hudsonville Unity Christian, 7 p.m.
Lake Odessa vs. Adrian, at Milan, 7 p.m.
Corunna vs. Cadillac, at Grayling, 7 p.m.
Adrian Madison vs. Allen Park Cabrini, at Whitmore Lake, 6 p.m.
Brown City vs. Shelby, at Saginaw Nouvel, 7 p.m.
Bronson vs. Laingsburg, at Portage Central, 7 p.m.
Traverse City St. Francis vs. Calumet, at Charlevoix, 7 p.m.
Rogers City vs. Crystal Falls Forest Park, at Engadine, 7 p.m.
Auburn Hills Oakland Christian vs. Portland St. Patrick, at Lake Fenton, 7 p.m.
Mendon vs. Plymouth Christian, at Climax-Scotts, 6:30 p.m.
Mount Pleasant vs. Leland, at Buckley, 7 p.m.