Bloomfield Hills Marian’s volleyball program earned the MHSAA Division 1 State Title in a win over Northville Nov. 19 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

Bloomfield Hills Marian’s volleyball program earned the MHSAA Division 1 State Title in a win over Northville Nov. 19 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

Photo provided by Mayssa Cook

Bloomfield Hills Marian volleyball earns third-straight state title

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 7, 2022


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — In a season of adversity and perseverance for Bloomfield Hills Marian volleyball, revenge would be the final step for the five-time state champions.

Marian suffered its only loss of the season to Northville en route to its 49-1 record this year, and on Nov. 19 at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Marian would go head-to-head with Northville one more time for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 State Championship.

Northville bested Marian, who is ranked No. 7 nationally according to USA Today, at the Beast of the East Tournament Oct. 15 with Marian starters senior Ella Schomer and Reagan Sass both sidelined due to injury.

At full strength, Marian was ready to earn its third-straight title.

“I think going into that game, especially Ella (Schomer) and Reagan (Sass), who were the two starters who were out, we were fiery and lit up,” Marian senior setter Ava Sarafa said. “We knew we were ready.”

Northville came firing out the gate, winning the first set 25-22. Marian would respond with a 25-22 set win of its own, but the third set would prove to be the deciding factor for both sides.

Marian had its back against the wall with Northville jumping out to a 18-12 set lead, but Marian knew how to respond when the pressure was on.

“I called a timeout and gave them some words of wisdom and motivation, and they ran with it. I told them, ‘We’re gonna tie this up at 19-19,’ and it’s kind of funny, because we ended up tying it at 19,” Marian coach Mayssa Cook said. “I told them there’s no team in the state that can play with the pressure the way we play. We welcome it, we encourage it, and we love it.”

Pressure wasn’t unfamiliar territory for Marian in this year’s playoffs, as Clarskton took two of the first three sets in the MHSAA Quarterfinals.

Senior libero Lauren Heming, a Wofford College commit, tallied six service points and an ace to notch the contest up at 19, and senior Molly Banta added two aces for a 23-21 lead.

Sophomore outside hitter Izzy Busignani, who finished with 27 kills and 20 digs, recorded two kills to earn the 25-23 win in the third set.

The sophomore standout became a full-time contributor this year for Marian and said her game took the biggest leap forward when the team needed her most.

“I think my game took its jump when we had the most pressure on us,” Busignani said. “When we were down or needed help, I think that’s when my game took its jumps.”

The third-set win carried a significant momentum shift for Marian, who earned a dominant 25-11 fourth-set victory for the school’s third-straight state title.

Cook said this year’s title meant a little more with the program-defining senior class set to graduate this year.

“(With) this group, specifically these seniors and the five of them that were here before that were main contributors for the two championships, I felt the desire to win this title more than any other year,” Cook said.

Sarafa, Schomer, Sass, Heming and senior Evelynne Oegema were the five seniors this year who originally started on varsity as freshmen and were coined as Marian’s “fab-five.”

Sarafa, a University of Kentucky commit, tallied 45 assists and 10 digs, while Heming added 20 digs of her own in the win. Schomer contributed 14 kills and 17 digs.

Schomer (10th) and Sarafa (2nd) were both finalists for the Miss Volleyball honor this season, and have been key contributors to Marian becoming one of the best volleyball teams in the nation.

“It’s been really surreal just ending our seasons with a three-peat and everything,” Sarafa said. “Starting as a freshman now, you really watch everyone grow. It’s almost like you leave a legacy with all you’ve accomplished.”

While Sarafa and her senior class have left a legacy of their own, Sarafa said she owes a lot of praise to the seniors before her.

“The family-oriented culture has been there since day one,” Sarafa said. “The seniors really brought us in, and having the years with Ava (Brizard), Sophia (Treder), Sarah (Sylvester), and Janiah (Jones), and once they left I think it was left for our class to take it upon ourselves and make sure the culture stayed.”

Now it’s Busignani and junior Danielle Mertz who will lead the 2023 Marian team for a chance at four straight titles.

While the 2022 senior class had an impact on Sarafa, Busignani said this senior class was impactful for her growth as a player.

“They just have a lot of heart and passion for the game,” Busignani said. “Every point mattered to them, and every play mattered to them. They were always by your side to pick you up.”

Marian will graduate eight seniors this season, with senior contributor Mackenzie Jackson and Gabrielle Hock also departing.

With Marian’s family-oriented mindset, the seniors will always be remembered and welcomed for what they achieved.

“The relationship I had with these eight seniors, this is not goodbye,” Cook said. “These eight seniors and I will be in each other’s lives for as long as I live.”