2023 State Finals Unsung Heroes
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There was a lot of outstanding performances during the state finals weekend at Kellogg Arena. We’ve certainly covered the high-profile performances that sparked the respective champions to their titles. But, each championship team also had a key player that was…
There was a lot of outstanding performances during the state finals weekend at Kellogg Arena.
We’ve certainly covered the high-profile performances that sparked the respective champions to their titles.
But, each championship team also had a key player that was crucial to their success that won’t grab the headlines over some of their peers.
Here’s a look at one player from each winner that played that unsung hero role and was a difference maker that might got unnoticed.
D1:, So. MH Mercy
Mercy has a lot of talented players, but Hollier really shined in Kellogg Arena. Her ability to play well above the net despite being just a 5’9” middle was impressive. In the semifinal win over Clarkston, Hollier had eight assisted blocks to lead the defensive effort in slowing down an explosive Clarkston offense. She also added five kills. In Saturday’s final win over Forest Hills Northern, Hollier came through with 10 kills while hitting .368. She also added another pair of assisted blocks. Hollier’s explosiveness is going to make her a breakout star in the 2024 season.
D2:, Sr. RS North Branch
It’s hard to say anyone on the North Branch starting lineup would be an unsung hero, because they collectively make up one of the greatest teams we’ve seen in D2 history. However, Gyomory’s season really can’t be understated, especially as a right side. Gyomory really added another dimension to the Bronco offense starting in 2022 and she built on that in 2023. In the big 1 vs. 2 semifinal with Grand Rapids Christian, Gyomory had 12 kills while hitting .611. She followed that up in the final with another nine kills against West Catholic. That put her at 513 kills on the year while hitting .407 in total. She had 21 matches where she hit over .500.
D3: Jovie Cochran, Sr. L Kalamazoo Christian
The Comets looked dominant in their semifinal sweep of SMCC on Thursday and then fought through a tough Traverse City St. Francis squad in Saturday’s final. It’s safe to say that Cochran left it all out on the floor this past weekend. The Comets have a lot of hitting options and a dynamite offense, but it wouldn’t be able to operate at a high level without the consistent passing and play of Cochran. In the semifinal win, she had 15 digs without a serve receive error. She then followed it up with 28 digs in the finals while tacking on a pair of aces to boot. Cochran was definitely an unsung hero in Kalamazoo Christian’s first championship.
D4: Erica Walker, Jr. S Everest Collegiate
The Mountaineers had outstanding hitting throughout the weekend, allowing it to come back from down two sets in both the semifinal and final. That wouldn’t have been possible had Walker not been on her game. In the semifinal Walker had 45 assists. She followed that up with 57 in the final against Leland. The 57 assists in the final is one of the top performances in MHSAA finals history. All that while Walker dropped the bomb that she had never played organized volleyball prior to this fall. Walker joined the team to help her aunt, first-year CEC coach Danielle Walker. Just remarkable.