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Mercy’s Mruzik named Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year

By: Zachary Manning | Farmington Press | Published January 22, 2020

 Former Farmington Hills Mercy volleyball player Jess Mruzik was announced as the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year Jan. 22. Mruzik also had her jersey retired by Mercy.

Former Farmington Hills Mercy volleyball player Jess Mruzik was announced as the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year Jan. 22. Mruzik also had her jersey retired by Mercy.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Teammates, family and friends cheer as Jess Mruzik receives the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award. Mruzik is now playing for the University of Michigan.

Teammates, family and friends cheer as Jess Mruzik receives the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year award. Mruzik is now playing for the University of Michigan.

Photo by Deb Jacques

FARMINGTON HILLS –– The emotion was hard to miss as former Farmington Hills Mercy volleyball player Jess Mruzik walked into the school's auditorium.

Coming from the University of Michigan, where she is now competing for the Wolverines, Mruzik was in for a surprise. Her dad, Jeff Mruzik, walked her into the school and guided her to a room full of people ready to celebrate.

She opened the door, and before she knew it, there were screams, smiles and tears of joy throughout. Mruzik had just found out that she was named the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year, with the formal announcement occurring Jan. 22.

But that wasn’t all of the surprises for the day. After some photos with friends and family, Marlins coach Loretta Vogel was ready to unveil another honor for her former star.

With her career officially over, Vogel uncovered a frame with Mruzik’s jersey, letting her know that the No. 33 she wore would be officially retired.

“It’s definitely super amazing to have won all these awards throughout this year and over my volleyball career, but this isn’t why I play the game,” Mruzik said. “I play the game because I love the sport and I love my teammates and the competitive atmosphere that comes along with playing volleyball. But this is amazing right now.”

“I’m still in a little bit of shock with this, but I’ve been in shock with everything that she’s done up to this point, so she just continues to amaze us,” Jeff Mruzik said.

The Gatorade National Player of the Year recognizes elite student-athletes from the U.S. in 12 different sports. Winners are honored for their athletic excellence, academics and character.

There is no shortage of expectations that come with being named a Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year. Past winners have gone on to win a combined 89 gold medals and 13 national championships.

Mruzik joined an exclusive list of top athletes around the country that have received the honor. Former Gatorade Players of the Year include: Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach and Karl-Anthony Towns, among others.

“It’s such an honor to be in a group with such amazing athletes and amazing people, and we’ll just see where it takes me,” Mruzik said.

She is no stranger to receiving awards, with this just being the latest in a string of several accolades she has racked up.

During her senior campaign this past fall, Mruzik led the Marlins to a 59-1 overall record and a Division 1 state championship, while earning the state’s Miss Volleyball award,

She finished her senior campaign with 495 kills, 209 digs, 47 service aces and 19 blocks, while posting a .635 kill percentage and .540 hitting percentage.

Along with her achievements for Mercy, she also headed to Egypt to compete with the USA Volleyball Youth National Team, where she led the team to a gold medal and earned MVP honors at the FIVB Girls U18 World Championships. 

“She’s put a lot of time into this. It’s not like it’s something that just happens,” Vogel said. “Jess has been in the gym, she’s a student of the game, and you can tell when you watch her play.”

As an early enrollee at Michigan, Mruzik has already hit the ground running. She plans to help the Wolverines move into the national spotlight and compete for a national championship.

“I definitely think that we’re capable of doing that throughout the four years that I’m there,” Mruzik said. “We’ll just see where volleyball takes me. Maybe the Olympics, maybe pro, we don’t know yet.”

Call Sports Writer Zachary Manning at (586) 279-1107. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.