Bloomfield Hills Marian sophomore Ava Brizard returns a volley Sept. 10 in a quad hosted by Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. The Mustangs beat Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day 3-0 and Notre Dame Prep 3-1 at the tournament.

Bloomfield Hills Marian sophomore Ava Brizard returns a volley Sept. 10 in a quad hosted by Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. The Mustangs beat Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day 3-0 and Notre Dame Prep 3-1 at the tournament.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Marian volleyball thriving early with young group

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 17, 2019

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BROOMFIELD HILLS — The Bloomfield Hills Marian volleyball team consists of five freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors and three seniors. The Mustangs graduated eight seniors last season and have had to revamp the roster.

Though the team is young, the Mustangs have not had trouble finding success in the early stages of the season.

At press time, Marian was 12-0 overall. The Mustangs have only dropped two sets this season — one to Walled Lake Central and one to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep — and are ranked as the No. 4 Division 1 team, according to the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association’s Sept. 9 rankings.

Marian coach Mayssa Cook pointed to team chemistry as a top reason for the Mustang’s hot start.

“We’re doing really well; we have fun at practice,” Cook said. “They definitely do a nice job of putting the team first.”

Another ingredient in Marian’s start is its resilience. In any sport, it’s important to not falter when falling behind by a sizeable margin. Cook believes her team hasn’t lacked that trait in the early going.

“They don’t give up. They’re just persistent,” the coach said. “At the (Macomb) Dakota tournament, we were down 19-11 and came back and won against a good team. They refused to quit.”

Freshmen Lauren Heming and Ava Sarafa, along with sophomore Tatum Casper and junior Sofia Espinosa, have all been standout performers in the eyes of the coach.

“All of them have been contributors at different times in our 12 matches,” Cook said.

The three team captains this season are seniors Hadley Moran and Christine Audette, and sophomore Ava Brizard.

Brizard was the Mustangs’ top hitter as a freshman, and all three players are playing big roles in guiding a young team.

As a young captain, Brizard has taken on a lot of responsibility. However, the hitter got plenty of big-game experience last season as the Mustangs played matches against top teams such as Farmington Hills Mercy, Notre Dame Prep and Northville High.

While there are no glaring issues with her team, Cook sees small tweaks that need to be made here and there for the Mustangs to keep building camaraderie.

“We need to work on our middle and setter chemistry,” she said. “Our two middles unfortunately got hurt in the Dakota tournament. With a freshman setter (Sarafa), she needs the chemistry between her and her hitters.”

Cook also hopes to develop more leadership in her first-year players, but she understands it may take the entirety of the season to reach that peak.

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