Reprinted from an article in The Times Herald written by Joseph Hayes, Sept. 12, 2012
TOP 25 VOLLEYBALL PLAYERS
WHO’S NO. 1
Fealko tops list of area volleyball players
By Joseph Hayes
The Blue Water Area has enjoyed a run of outstanding volleyball players.
In the past few years, talents such as Nora Fa’atiga of Richmond, Amy Zimmer of Port Huron Northern and Hailey Booms of Marysville have dominated the area.
This season, there are more outstanding players, although most don’t have the same name recognition of the aforementioned players.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 25 girls volleyball players in the area at this point of the season. This list has no bearing on all-area honors at the end of the season.
Every coach has an opinion, and when it came down to who the top player in the area was, they were divided. But there was one player that was often mentioned — coaches hate to face Port Huron Northern senior Casey Fealko.
1. Casey Fealko, Port Huron Northern: Fealko always has displayed vast athletic ability during her time at Port Huron Northern. Fealko also has been a standout soccer and basketball player. This season, she has taken her play to another level on the volleyball court. As Northern’s top outside hitter, Fealko is dominating games, even in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division. With her help, the Huskies are in the thick of the conference race.
2. Mikayla Shell, Croswell-Lexington:
Standing more than 6 feet tall, Shell can be an imposing and intimidating force from her middle hitter position. She has teamed with fellow middle hitter Jessica Newberry to give the Pioneers two of the best in the area.
Shell also has stepped up her leadership this season and has been leading the hungry Pioneers by example.
3. Alison Bastianelli, Marysville: The Vikings sophomore had a dynamic season last year as a freshman middle hitter. Paired with 2011 graduate Haylee Booms, Bastianelli grew by leaps and bounds and is even better this season.
Vikings coach Kristen Michaelis said Bastianelli is 100 times better than last season — and that’s a nightmare situation for opponents.
4. Maison Burr, St. Clair: According to St. Clair coach Nikki Sygit, Burr has special athletic ability. “She jumps like Michael Jordan,” Sygit said. The setter also plays right side hitter for St. Clair and has become one of the best hitters in the MAC Gold. With Burr playing so well, it’s no surprise that the Saints lead the
MAC Gold Division race.
5. Taylor Hornbacher, Marysville: Hornbacher is the second Vikings player to show up on the list and could have actually been placed higher. As the Vikings outside hitter, Hornbacher has become a complete player. She now plays all around and has given the Vikings a presence when teamed with Bastianelli.
6. Allyson Hayman, Marysville: Hayman has proven as important to the Vikings as Bastianelli and Hornbacher. As the Vikings libero, Hayman has an integral part in the team’s offense and defense and has been counted on as a stabilizing force. With her help, the Vikings are once again in the thick of the MAC Red Division race.
7. Amy Tseng, Port Huron Northern: Like Hayman, Tseng is the Huskies libero, and has proven to be one of the best in the MAC Red. She has given Northern stability in the back row and has allowed the Huskies to get their offense started quickly and efficiently. She already has helped Northern earn several outstanding victories, including defeating Fraser in Red Division play.
8. Brooke Smith, Croswell-Lexington: The Pioneers coaches rave about Smith, who is only a sophomore. In just two years she has become one of the best outside hitters in the area, with great placement and outstanding leaping ability. With her ability, Smith likely will be a standout for several years to come and will challenge Bastianelli and others for the top spot on this list.
9. Kaleigh Spaetzel, Deckerville: Eagles coach Carl Krumenacker said Spaetzel has been a major catalyst to Deckerville’s success. He noted her intelligence toward the game.
This season she has played all over the court for the Eagles and has improved steadily in her hitting ability. With Spaetzel at her best, don’t be surprised if the Eagles make another deep postseason run.
10. Kylie Schuh, Cardinal Mooney: The junior began the season at outside hitter, but showed her diversity by moving to setter after injuries hit the Cardinals.
Marine City coach Dennis Caulfield said Schuh is one of his most passionate players and is already drawing interest from college coaches.
11. McKenzie Lance, Northern: If not for injury, Lance could have been much higher on the list. Northern coach Tim Langolf said she was comparable to Fealko, who is in the top spot. “She has phenomenal hands, it’s like having another setter,” Langolf said. Lance has proven to be a great blocker as well and has given the Huskies a dominant one-two punch.
12. Lyric Bostick, Cros-Lex: The Pioneers senior is one of the best in the area at keeping the ball off the floor. Not only has Bostick been dominant in BWAC matches, every time she hits the court she is a threat to opponents because of her defense and serving ability. With her help, the Pioneers are the favorite in the BWAC and could go on a prolonged postseason run.
13. Brittany Schmidt, Richmond: The fourth player from the Blue Water Area Conference hails from Richmond.
Schmidt has been the Blue Devils’ most consistent player whenever they need someone to step up for a big play. Coach TJ Balinski said Schmidt is the go-to offensive weapon for the team. She is currently leading the team in both kills and assists.
14. Cassidy Carpenter, Port Huron: The Big Reds senior could have been the fourth Croswell-Lexington Pioneer on the list, but she transferred to Port Huron High this year. She has instantly become the Big Reds’ top outside hitter and has allowed them to remain competitive even during a rebuilding season. Her leadership, athletic ability and heart have allowed her to quickly make a name for herself, even at a new school.
15. Nina Galante, Yale: The Bulldogs middle hitter is first on her team in kills and is the BWAC leader in kill percentage. “Nina works hard to take advantage of all the sets that she gets,” Yale coach Dave Czech said. “Nina is around the ball a lot and is a good anticipater. Nina has become a consistent jump server.”
16. Jessica Martin, Marysville: The Vikings senior setter has become one of its most consistent performers and also one of the best at her position in all of the MAC Red. As a senior she has become even more focal, while also leading by example. “She will keep pushing herself and her teammates,” Marysville coach Kristen Michaelis said.
17. Carlie Rentz, Marine City: The Mariners senior has proved to be a versatile player for the Mariners. Coach Kelly Thomas said she was the Mariners’ best serve receiver and also attacker. Rentz has played on varsity for three years and has instinctively become one of the Mariners’ leaders.
18. Katie Heisler, Armada: The Tigers junior outside hitter is known for her aggressiveness and tenacity on the court. Whenever Armada is in need of a big hit or play, Heisler has answered the call. Despite being only 5-foot-4, Heisler is known for her thunderous hitting ability and has given Armada the perfect leader to follow after.
19. Kylee Barrett, Cros-Lex: As a right side hitter and also setter, Barrett has given the Pioneers the flexibility they need on the volleyball court. That’s no surprise for an athlete who seems to excel in everything she does. Barrett has teamed with fellow setter Erin Tait to give the Pioneers the perfect setting combination.
20. Erin Tait, Cros-Lex: That leads us to Tait, who has been a catalyst of one of the most dynamic offenses in the area. Tait has lived up to expectations as the team’s setter, and her passes have helped the Pioneers hitters take their game to the next level. Tait is also known for her leadership ability and toughness.
21. Kristen Rienstra, Marlette: The Red Raiders junior middle hitter is known for her hitting ability. On many occasions, Marlette has called upon her to take over games, and she has answered the bell. Rienstra also has improved as a server and will only get better with time.
22. Emily Marchand, Memphis: The Yellowjackets senior setter has taken command of a mostly inexperienced team. Coach DJ Goodard said her leadership compares to the best he has seen, and it has made the Yellowjackets a better team. That will prove critical as the Yellowjackets enter the stretch run.
23. S kye Willer, Brown City: As the Green Devils top outside hitter, Willer has continuously had a presence in games. Opponents have had to game-plan around her in order to stop Brown City. But her constant effort has enabled her to be in a position for success. As Brown City enters the stretch run of the season, Willer will have to be better than ever in order for them to accomplish their goals.
24. Jessica Newberry, Cros-Lex: Some coaches say Newberry is very comparable to Mikayla Shell, who came in at No. 2 on the list. Paired together, they have given the Pioneers a set of dominant hitters in the middle of their lineup to go along with several outstanding outside hitters. Newberry is known for her powerful shot, her ability to block and also her penchant to lead.
25. Miara Okie, Sandusky: The Redskins junior middle hitter has imposing size and ability. She is the team leader in kills in only her third season of playing volleyball. She has also become one of the Redskins’ best leaders and has improved as a blocker.
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 488-7746