Morley Stanwood volleyball team appreciates successful season

The Morley Stanwood volleyball team celebrates following its 3-2 victory over Hesperia in its Teal Attack Match. The Mohawks clinched the outright CSAA Silver title. (Courtesy photo/Tracy Waldo)

MORLEY — The Morley Stanwood volleyball team accomplished a great deal in 2018.

The Mohawks posted a 32-14-1 (9-1) record on their way to another outright CSAA Silver championship. Their season ended with a 3-2 loss to Pewamo-Westphalia in its Class C district opener.

“Winning conference was a big positive for our team,” head coach Robin Kozuch said. “We know that we will always have a big target on our back due to the success of our program over the years. The team knows and we try to emphasize that every team we play will bring their best game. I feel like our girls did a good job of not taking any team for granted.

“We played very well against some great competition.”

The Mohawks dropped a close game to rival Big Rapids in five sets but used that game to further motivate themselves the rest of the season.

“We came back and beat them three times in different tourneys,” Kozuch said. “I love the rivalry that our schools have and yet they are good friends after the match! Club volleyball has really brought our community together. Athletes that may have despised each other because of rivalry end of being very close because they play together outside of the school season. It is really neat to see.

“It was also amazing to see the effect that a program can have on something outside of the sport itself.”

Morley Stanwood won its Teal Attack match against Hesperia in five sets. Proceeds from the Teal Attack Match went directly to Morley Stanwood dining associate Carol Allers, who is currently battling stage four Ovarian Cancer.

“We were able to help a retired school employee with funds to help her battle ovarian cancer,” Kozuch said. “To see areas where our kids can give back to others in need is awesome. In our preseason scavenger hunt, we also made an impact on a very sweet couple (whom we didn’t know) who ended up attending every single one of our matches this season! Of course, we want to win and we are very serious about doing the best to get those wins, but sometimes some of the most amazing things that happen are away from the game itself.”

While the Mohawks would’ve loved a long postseason run, the program improved over the course of the season and the future is bright.

“This team will only continue to get stronger next year,” Kozuch said. “We had a small but very athletic junior varsity team this year and they all put in a ton of work in their offseason as well as excel in other sports. We look forward to another very strong season next fall and can’t wait to find even more success through the hard work and dedication that our program continues to demand itself.

“Our volleyball program will always strive to get the best that we can out of what our hard-working young athletes. They will continue the tradition of excellence.”

Graduating Players:

Mikayla Moore: Spent three seasons as the starting setter for the Mohawks and earned All-Conference and All-Region in both her junior and senior seasons. She finished her career with 641 assists, 51 aces, 227 digs, and 66 kills.

“She has a great feel for the court and has worked very hard over the years to become one of the strongest setters in the region,” Kozuch said. “She will leave a huge hole for the team to fill next fall.”

McKenzie Scott and Erika Ulrich: “They complemented each other very well,” Kozuch said. Depending on the opponent I was able to change my lineup to compete better. They both pushed each other and were a positive force on the floor.”

Abi Waldo: Strong defensive player with good speed.

McKenna Bennett: A serving specialist for the Mohawks.

“She did a great job of serving exactly where she was asked to serve,” Kozuch said. “She played an important role on the team.”

Key Returners:

Braelyn Berry: All-Conference and All-Region selection.  Led the team in digs and receptions with 409 and 682 respectively, led the team in aces with 84, and a team-high hitting percentage with .214 (237 kills).

“Although she is only a freshman, her talent is easily seen on the court,” Kozuch said. “She has great awareness and speed defensively and receives over half of all serves. She continues to improve her offensive game and will be a force for the team over her high school career.”

Brooke Brauher: All-Conference. Finished with 253 kills, 277 digs, and was second in aces with 63.

“An offensive and defensive threat,” Kozuch said. “She has worked hard to positively lead the team and has come a long way and intense competitor. She will have a bright future on the floor for the Mohawks.”

Jaidyn Schmitt: Led the team in kills with 255 and in total blocks with 44.

“She was a surprise offensive monster the second half of the season,” Kozuch said. “She really started to connect well with Landrie LaPreze (setter). I can’t wait to see how much she grows in the offseason. She is a very hard worker and as she gets more and more experience on the floor and more confidence in her abilities she will be able to play with the best in the state.”

Breanna Berry: Honorable Mention All-Conference.

“She’s a great defensive player,” Kozuch said. “She switched from playing on the right side to our libero and she did a fantastic job. She is one of our most versatile players. She can literally play every position on the court and do it very well.”

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