Messar/Gruszynski Headline M&O's BestIssue Date: November 8, 2017
With the 2017 volleyball season coming to a close, the coaches placed their votes for the top players in the M&O conference. Eight players were named to the conference's first team, along with six to the second team and seven honorable mention. The conference's two top teams, Crivitz (16-0) and Wausaukee (13-3), were also honored with Wolverine Chloe Gruszynski and Ranger Courtney Messar receiving co-MVP honors.
When talking about the Wolverines, there's no better place to start than sophomore standout Chloe Gruszynski. She received the co-MVP nod because of her outstanding all-around play. Gruszynski piled up stats both offensively and defensively. On the attack, she smashed 112 kills on a 24% kill percentage, to go along with 12 aces en route to a 95.9% serving percentage. She wasn't done there as when it came to defense, she was as good as it gets. Gruszynski recorded 165 digs, while also showing her net play abilities with 15 blocks.
Crivitz coach Molly Meyers said of Gruszynski, "Chloe was a very well-rounded player who works hard every day to improve herself and her team. She did a great job this of playing many roles including middle hitter, outside hitter, and one of the top passes on the team."
Joining Gruszynski on the first team was senior Abby Barley, who was also named the M&O's top defensive specialist. Barley's defense clearly shined with her award, but she was also a top server on the conference's top team. She racked up an astounding 198 digs, then turned around to recorded 23 aces on a 99.3% serving percentage.
Coach Meyers had this to say of her senior, "Abby was an exceptional passer for us this year. Our defense was able to step it up a level because of her willingness to take on the role of libero this year. This shows her willingness to be a team player. In addition, her serving ability made her stand out even more."
The Wausaukee Rangers were also well-represented on the conference's first team. Junior hitter Courtney Messar played well enough to earn co-MVP honors. Messar did a little bit of everything for the Rangers as she crushed 180 kills and also set up her teammates for 5 set assists. Defensively, Messar hardly let a ball hit the floor with 242 digs. Not done there, she set behind the lines to record 34 aces for her Rangers.
Wausaukee coach Amanda Allman praised Messar on and off the court, "Courtney is a player who gives it her all every single play. She led the team in almost every statistical category and was our go-to hitter this year. She plays all the way around and is one of those players that is all over the court. She also works very hard in the classroom, just as she does on the court."
Another Wausaukee junior found her way to the first team: Callie Orlando. Orlando cemented herself as Wausaukee's go-to setter and excelled at the position. She recorded 365 set assists on the season, but helped in other areas as well. Orlando also posted 6 kills, 13 aces and 87 digs on the year.
Coach Allman highlighted Orlando's hard work for her success, "Callie is one of the most hard-working players I know. She works hard just as in the classroom as she does on the court. As our setter, she gets to every second ball possible. I would think her teammates would say she is the definition of a team player and they love playing with her. She is always looking to improve and is a great asset to our team."
For the Niagara Badgers, Jasmine Racine earned first team honors for her outstanding play on the court. As just a sophomore, Badgers' fans will have a special player on their hands for years to come. Racine did a bit of everything as she stock-piled 111 kills, 67 assists, 29 aces, 114 digs, and 8 blocks. Is there anything she can't do?
Niagara coach Nicole Anderson spoke on behalf of coach Carol St. Arnauld of Racine, "She is a solid all-around player and our best hitter and passer as only our libero had more defensive digs than her. She was second in assists and service aces. Jasmine was an integral part of our team."
Anyone that played the Coleman Cougars this season knows Annabelle Kotecki can be a headache for her opposition. Kotecki did plenty of damage at the net, while also showing her athleticism from the back row. Throughout the season, she had 106 kills, 17 blocks, 143 digs and 26 aces.
Cougar coach Christine Zielinski couldn't say enough of her senior, "Annabelle was Coleman's most valuable player for this year. She gave 110% at every practice and her strive for perfection is unmatched. While striving to be the best, she is a quiet player who sets the bar high for her teammates and leads by example. She's a very soft-spoken young woman who has a sharp competitive edge. No athlete is more coachable than Annabelle."
Gillett senior Willow Pecha was also named to the conference's first team. Tiger coach Keri Hicks said that Pecha was on the court 92% of the time this season, and her stats reflect why. She recorded 151 kills this season, on her way to a 29.7% kill percentage. Pecha also compiled 233 digs, 10 assists and served up 32 aces in just 194 attempts.
"Willow is first and foremost a wonderful young lady that I hold in high esteem because of her love of life and her character. She is a very coachable player who works hard during the season as well as in the off-season. She can be found in the weight room throughout the year. Last year, she was on second team all-conference and set a goal for herself to work hard and make first team all-conference, so I was thrilled for her when the teams were announced. Beyond the stats, Willow covered areas on the court, and led our team, in ways that stats can't record. It will be tough to fill her shoes next season."
Rounding out the M&O's first team is Suring Eagle senior Nikki Niemann. Niemann, a repeat first teamer, received the honorable recognition thanks to her all-around play. She came away with 100 kills, 178 digs, 16 block kills, 10 assists, and 30 aces on 92% serving percentage this season.
Suring coach Tonia Kruschke knows, Niemann was more than just a good player, "Nikki has been a critical part of our team for the past two years. This year we were able to move her out of the middle, to an outside hitter. She is an intense, natural athlete who loves the game of volleyball. Nikki is a leader both on and off the court. She is a strong student and actively involved in our community. One of Nikki's strength is that she is always trying to improve herself as a player. She is also supportive of the younger players by encouraging them to be the best players they can be."
Six players representing six different schools made up the M&O conference's second team. Seniors Millie Benson of St. Thomas, Taylor Kaldenberg of Crivitz, Abby McCarthy of Niagara, and Megan Wolfe of Gillett, to go along with juniors Brianna Sylvester of Lena and Wylee VanBellinger of Suring formed the second team.
Honorable mention honors were given to Oneida Nation's Tiara Barber, Lena's Ally Demmith, Suring's Jasmine Chesterfield, Coleman's Brooklyn Seals, Crivitz's Allison Zorn, and Wausaukee's Isabella Manske and Kaelyn Schlies.
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