L’Anse Creuse North celebrates during a win against Romeo on Sept. 13 at L’Anse Creuse Middle School-North.

L’Anse Creuse North celebrates during a win against Romeo on Sept. 13 at L’Anse Creuse Middle School-North.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

L’Anse Creuse North volleyball putting MAC Red on notice

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Macomb Chronicle | Published September 19, 2023


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Just five years ago, L’Anse Creuse North volleyball was crowned champions of the Macomb Area Conference’s White division with a perfect 10-0 league record and an unforgettable state tournament run to the quarterfinals.

North was catapulted the next year to the MAC Red, and it’s been an adjustment period ever since as the Crusaders have been a middle-of-the-road team in the conference.

After winning the Dakota Invitational to start this season and beating MAC Red teams such as Utica Eisenhower and Macomb Dakota (earning some retribution for the three-straight state tournament losses to Dakota), it’s safe to say North is taking that next step the young squad showed it was capable of doing last year.

“The biggest change for us this year is we’ve been really working on the mental side of the game and that mental confidence,” North coach Denton Casier said. “Last year, we’d get down. Mentally, we’d shut down on the court and we’d break down on the court, and we would panic. Over the summer, we’ve worked on staying calm and we’ve worked on believing in ourselves and believing in the girl next to us. These girls believe in our system, and they believe in what we’re asking them to do, and that’s huge.”

North, now 13-1 on the year and 3-0 in the league, has already tied their league win total last season, and they’re doing it in impressive fashion.

North has yet to lose a set to a MAC Red opponent, sweeping Romeo, New Baltimore Anchor Bay and Macomb Dakota this year behind an array of junior and senior-led talent.

The defense has always been there for North. Senior libero Marissa Baaso, an all-region selection in 2022, and senior defensive setter Saniyah Terry continue to support the defensive effort with an elite supporting cast with them on the defensive side.

“We’re in a very unique position this year where I’ve got so many defensively solid players,” Casier said. “It’s our defense. Our defense keeps us in games.”

Senior outside hitter Brooklyn Lewis has been dominant this season, collecting 15 kills and three aces in North’s win against Romeo on Sept. 13. Next to her, senior outside hitter Sarah Curtis, an all-region selection in 2022, has been equally impressive, both offensively and defensively.

Junior middle hitter Kate Schneider has been an impact performer for North’s offense as well, and coach Casier couldn’t have asked for a more efficient setter than junior Jadeyn Bisdorf, who tallied 31 assists in their win over Romeo. Junior middle blocker Jade Taomina and sophomore hitter Morgan Janowski have played crucial roles in the offensive efforts.

Add an offense firing on all cylinders to an already-established defense, and North is looking like a team the school hasn’t seen in a very long time.

“L’Anse Creuse, for the longest time, didn’t have multiple weapons,” Casier said. “We’d have one or two, but now we have three or four solid offensive weapons. You put that together with a solid defense, and it’s starting to click.”

But an offense and defense doesn’t just click on the court out of nowhere, and North’s players understood that coming into the season.

Most of them have played volleyball together, whether on a team or against one another, since they were 11 years old, so the familiarity was there.

For the varsity team, it was just about building the trust and confidence in each other that North really focused on in the offseason.

“During the summer, we all hung out a lot, and I think that helped build our trust even outside of school,” Curtis said. “We all hang out in the hallways, or we hang out at lunch. I think that helped us play more cohesive in practice. We got to know their personalities.”

North, currently tied for first in the MAC Red with Marysville, will look to carry its cohesiveness into the toughest stretch of the season against MAC Red opponents Utica Eisenhower (9/19), Marysville (9/26), Anchor Bay (9/28) and Dakota (10/4).

It’s a motivated group with their confidence at an all-time high, and Baaso said everyone on the team is on the same page.

“I think everyone is just so driven this year,” Baaso said. “I think everyone has the same goals in mind and is working together at the same pace.”