Battle Creek — Cassandra Haut was a sophomore sensation when Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central won the Class C state championship two years ago. So it should come to no surprise that she is even better as a senior leader.
Haut, a 6-foot-2 middle hitter, led St. Mary to an impressive 25-20, 29-27, 25-13 semifinal sweep over Unionville-Sebewaing on Thursday evening at Kellogg Arena, earning SMCC (44-8-2) the right to face Schoolcraft (47-10-1) for the championship Saturday at noon.
Haut had 20 kills and a .359 hitting percentage. She was never better than at the end of Game 2, rallying her team back from a 24-23 deficit, getting five kills the rest of the way, including a tip for a 28-27 lead before closing out the game with a service ace.
Haut closed the match with consecutive aces. She had four on the night.
"She has the ability to take control of the game just with her power," SMCC coach Diane Tuller said of Haut, who will play next year at Eastern Michigan. "She has very powerful spikes and when she's on the rest of the team does the same thing. We need her to take control so the other people will step up too."
Haut wasn't about to let her team lose after building a 17-12 Game 2 lead.
"We had a few, we'll say, 'blond' moments where we just kind of lost a few points," Haut said. "But we always say we refuse to lose and we definitely pushed for every point at the end of that game."
Sure, in 2012 she was just a sophomore, but she was a sophomore who had 16 kills in a state championship with a .500 hitting percentage following a 21-kill, .500 night in the semifinal.
"In 2012, I was the youngest then and now I'm the oldest, so obviously I'm a bigger part of this team now," Haut said. "And being one of the leaders on the team I like to try to bring everyone up, keep everyone on the same level and kind of keep everyone's heads focused and in the game."
Haut enjoys playing for Tuller who has guided SMCC to four state titles, including three since 2007.
"She's made my high school," Haut said of Tuller. "I've spent four years with her and wouldn't choose anyone else to have as my coach for high school.
"I love her coaching style, how she can be fun, but be serious every practice and always teach us every time you step on the court, become better and that's what I focus on and we focus on as a team."
Erica Treiber had 15 kills for Unionville-Sebewaing (43-8-2).
Schoolcraft came back from a two-game deficit, winning the final three games to beat Roscommon, 19-25, 14-25, 27-25, 25-17, 15-12 while improving its hitting percentage from .125 and minus-.026 the first two games to .317, .429 and .312.
In the deciding game, 5-4 senior outside hitter Marianna Douglas had a pair of aces to give Schoolcraft (47-10-1) momentum, then had a tip for a 9-8 lead and another ace for a 10-8 cushion. Jayci Suseland, a 6-2 junior, finished the match with a pair of kills.
Suseland had 23 kills, Douglas, 17 kills and 25 digs, and senior setter Sarah Wisser 54 assists.
"She's 5-foot-4, but she gets up there," Schoolcraft coach Erin Onken said of Douglas. "She surprises people. You think that she's a great defender and that's why I start her in the back row. She could be a libero and that's what she'll do in college, but when she gets in the front row I think people kind of then pay attention more to our middle and not her and she can place the ball just as well as if she was a 6-footer."
Talking of Douglas' serving, Onken said: "It was huge (to get early Game 5 lead). Whatever zone I give her she hits. And, if she doesn't agree with me she goes another direction and it's OK because it's usually for the better."
Senior outside hitter Reagan Moffit had 29 kills for Roscommon (49-12-2), senior Katie Tozer had 26 kills and Logan Hutek 60 assists.
"I'm extremely proud of how they came out in Game 1 and Game 2 and we knew that Schoolcraft would not stop fighting and when they started fighting and got their big guns going we didn't handle it well," Roscommon coach Heather Compton said. "We shut down and hoped to win."