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Sterling Heights High’s Duzey, Czopek commit to play volleyball in college

By: Sue Teggart | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 9, 2011

 Sterling Heights High seniors Kate Czopek, left, and Roxy Duzey inked their commitment letters Feb. 1 to take their volleyball careers to college. Duzey heads to Madonna University, while Czopek committed to Saginaw Valley State University.

Sterling Heights High seniors Kate Czopek, left, and Roxy Duzey inked their commitment letters Feb. 1 to take their volleyball careers to college. Duzey heads to Madonna University, while Czopek committed to Saginaw Valley State University.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Roxy Duzey’s face was lit with a seemingly permanent smile on what may have been the most important day in her young life.

It wasn’t just any February day; it was signing day for Duzey and her Sterling Heights High friend and teammate Kate Czopek, who both committed to play volleyball at the next level.

Duzey inked her commitment letter to the University of Madonna, while Czopek signed with Saginaw Valley State University.

“I feel like a proud papa,” Sterling coach Eric Wachterhauser said. “You raise them; you watch them succeed; you go through the ups and downs together almost like a family; and now I’m sending them off to college.”

A new crusade
Duzey, one of the top defensive players in Macomb County, admitted that she didn’t even know about Madonna’s program before talking with its coach, Jerry Abraham.

“After I talked to Coach Jerry, I realized I should check them out,” Duzey said. “They had my major that I want to get into (criminal justice), and I read all their profiles.

They’ve been to the state championship tournament 12 years in a row, and I realized I could learn a lot more than I already have with them than if I go somewhere else.”

Duzey said on her campus visit, it “felt right.”

“It felt like home,” she said, a smile beaming across her face. “Just sitting in Coach Jerry’s office, I didn’t want to go anywhere else. There was a point where I started crying — in a good way — because I knew it was so right for me.”

Abraham said he noticed Duzey’s defensive ability during the quarterfinal match against Fraser High. He thinks her desire to perform at the highest level will fit right into the Crusaders’ style of play.

“As I was watching the game, I noticed her intensity and how she went for the ball, and I liked her passion for competition,” Abraham said. “I was just very initially impressed with the way she played.

“I brought her in because I like her speed, her intensity and her skills as a defensive player,” Abraham continued. “I think she reads the court very well. She has a good game sense, and I thought she has the passion, and if she had the athleticism, I know we can train her to be a great player.”

Speaking of “great players,” there’s little argument that Duzey was just that at Sterling Heights High.

During her prep career, Duzey set 13 school records and two Michigan High School Athletic Association records: most aces in a five-game match with 17, and aces in a single game, which was a category that was started after she served 16 consecutive points in an Oct. 4 game against Carrollton High.

Duzey was named to the All-State team as a senior and was also selected to the All-County and All-Defensive teams three times (2008, ‘09 ‘10), and to the All-Region team twice (2009 and 2010).

Duzey is excited to take what she’s learned and apply it at Madonna.

“The volleyball team — I’ve seen how they play and function together, and they’re like one big family,” she said. “I love that. I’m excited to get my career started, and knowing that they’re going to help me become the best I can be.

“My expectations are to never give up,” she continued. “I’m going to compete for that spot. I’m motivated. I’m excited to compete, as well as learn.”

Flying high
For Czopek, playing at the college level seems like a natural progression.

After years of competing in club volleyball and with an elite prep program, Czopek is headed to one of the best Division II teams in the state at SVSU.

In the past three years, the Cardinals have won a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship (2009) and made their second straight appearance in the NCAA D-II playoffs, bowing in the regional semifinals. In 2008, the squad appeared in the regional finals.

“I am excited. … They’re all really good at the sport and (I’m) excited to be apart of that type of high-level environment,” Czopek said.

Czopek entertained other options before deciding on SVSU, crediting its campus-friendly atmosphere and meshing with the players as her reasons. Ultimately, SVSU was the whole package, much like Czopek is for the volleyball squad.

Czopek’s defensive stats are almost as impressive as her ability at the net, finishing with 78 blocks, 567 digs and a 93 percent service reception percentage. Offensively, she registered 502 kills on 1144 attacks with 97 aces and 364 service points.

Additionally, Czopek earned the MAC Blue Division Most Valuable Player award on top of All-Conference, All-County first-team and All-Region honors.

Czopek capped off her senior season by setting seven new school records: serve percentage for a career (95 percent), kills in a game (25), attack attempts in a game (49), kills in a season (502), attack attempts in a season (1,144), kill percentage in a game (.842), and kills in a career (1,209).

More than being able to play among athletes, Czopek is eager to learn from her peers.
“I’m used to playing at a high level, and I’m used to leading,” she said. “I never really had to compete with Roxy because … we play different positions. I’m eager to go there, and learn and develop.”

Wachterhauser said Duzey and Czopek deserve to be college volleyball players, crediting their commitment to the sport.

“Work ethic is always rewarded,” Wachterhauser said. “These two really epitomize that idea. They work hard. They study hard. They keep their health up. They do it all right, and they have done it all right since day one.”