Pontiac — Madeline Chinn was caught by surprise when she walked into the gymnasium at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep on Tuesday afternoon to accept the Miss Volleyball Award.
The gym was packed with Notre Dame Prep students, her teammates, parents and grandparents, along with longtime head coach Betty Wroubel who set up the memorable ceremony.
Chinn, a 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter, helped Notre Dame Prep win the Class B state championship last year. Notre Dame Prep will carry a 52-match winning streak into its state quarterfinal match with Detroit Communication & Media Arts on Tuesday night at Goodrich, with the winner advancing to Thursday night’s semifinals at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
Chinn became the second Notre Dame Prep player to win the award in the last five years, with Katherine Carlson hoisting the trophy back in 2014.
Chinn was the overwhelming winner of the award, which goes to the state’s top senior. She had 227 points with Jessica Robinson of Troy finishing second (158), followed by North Branch’s Allyson Severance (157), Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Madison Dowd (136), Lake Orion’s Paige Briggs (134) and Chinn’s teammate, Natalie Risi (131).
“It was wild, definitely a feeling I won’t forget,” said Chinn, who said she had no idea the ceremony was for her. “I found out about it the minute I walked through the door. All my friends and teachers, coaches and family hid it pretty well. It was very surreal. I couldn’t even imagine they were all here for me.
“I knew it was an option (winning Miss Volleyball), but honestly I didn’t think that one it was actually going to come, and two that it was going to be me. I’m just so thankful for all the people that have helped me win it and I couldn’t be more thankful for those people and all the things they do for me.
“Natalie and I have talked about it. Miss Volleyball is such a dream, but again putting another banner on the wall would be incredible and winning back-to-back state championships for the team would be amazing.”
Chinn was born in Michigan, then spent her kindergarten through sixth grade years in Texas before moving back home. She has a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to attend and play volleyball at Purdue with a future goal of being a dentist. She is also involved with Special Olympics.
Chinn knew Notre Dame Prep would challenge her, something she was looking forward to when arriving at the school.
“I knew it was an academically challenging school and I knew that was a place for me that I wanted, and I also knew the athletics were just as challenging, especially for the volleyball program,” pointed out Chinn.
“I knew and heard of Coach Wroubel and how she’s made and really worked with some great players and I knew I wanted to work hard. They already had two state championships (2007, 2013) and I really wanted to be a part of that and I thought Notre Dame would be the place to do it and here I am.”
Chinn had 682 kills her sophomore year, then had 647 kills and a .400-plus hitting percentage last season to put herself on the radar.
Chinn has 624 kills and a .462-hitting percentage this season. She had 23 kills and 19 digs Thursday in a 25-20, 25-19, 25-23 regional final sweep of a North Branch team which won Class B state titles in 2014 and 2016.
“I really try working on different shots and seeing what’s open, taking snapshots after I place a ball to see if I can go there again or what’s open to get a point for the team,” Chinn said. “It’s something crucial that I work on because I think the side out game of volleyball is super important.
“I feel my biggest improvement was serve-receive. I worked a lot on that these last couple of years. I wanted to be not just someone people can look at offensively, but defensively as well. We use a phrase work smarter not harder, but we definitely put in the physical work, whether it’s in the gym or the weight room and also work on a lot of mental stuff as well. We go through the strategy of the game and what’s behind it as well.”
And, Chinn has paid close attention to detail, a reason she walked away from Notre Dame Prep’s gym with the Miss Volleyball award trophy.