The North Branch state champion volleyball team

North Branch, Brown City dominate TSA volleyball awards

(Photo by www.KG-Photo.com) North Branch senior Madee Miner, the TSA Thumb Volleyball Player of the Year.
(Photo by www.KG-Photo.com) North Branch senior Madee Miner, the TSA Thumb Volleyball Player of the Year.

Michigan’s Thumb was well-represented this year at the volleyball state finals in Battle Creek.

And both area teams that advanced that far — North Branch and Brown City — are equally well-represented on the All-Thumb Volleyball teams.

North Branch features two first teamers, a pair of second teamers and an honorable mention selection, while Brown City landed two players on the first team, one on the second team and had one honorable mention — as voted by the Thumb Sportswriters Association.

The Broncos, who won their second Class B state championship in three years, was unanimously voted as Thumb Volleyball Team of the Year, while Brown City, which was runner-up in Class C, was second on each ballot.

The Thumb Sportswriters Association is comprised of representatives from The Advertiser, Huron County View, Huron Daily Tribune, Sanilac County News, 92.1 FM The Mix and 102.1 WLEW Sports.

North Branch also featured the TSA Thumb Volleyball player — senior Madee Miner — who earned the honor for the second consecutive year. Miner, a setter who will play Division 1 volleyball for Campbell University, was a unanimous choice in the voting. The other three players to get second and third place votes were Becki Krause, of Brown City, Miner’s teammate Olivia Fike and Unionville-Sebewaing Area sophomore Rylee Zimmer.

Brown City coach Jenna Welke picked up the TSA Volleyball Coach of the Year, garnering 20 points in the vote, to narrowly edge Lauren Fischer of Kinde-North Huron (17). Cass City coach Amy Cuthrell was third in the voting with six points.

Senior libero Stephaney Fifield and sophomore outside hitter Allyson Severance were named to the TSA All-Thumb second team for North Branch, while junior Janel Ruhlman was honorable mention.

Several other Advertiser-area players also made a splash on the TSA volleyball teams. Zimmer was named to the first team while Reese senior Lauren Hecht and Cass City junior Sayge Cuthrell each earned a spot on the second team.

Kingston’s Carley Smith, Caro’s Cameryn Brown, Reese’s Madison Thompson, USA’s Katie Engelhardt and Cass City’s Kelsey Bouverette were named honorable mention.

For a complete list of TSA All-Thumb players, go to page B2.

All-Thumb Volleyball First Team

Madee Miner
Madee Miner

Player: Madee Miner

School: North Branch

Grade: 12

Position: Setter

2016 highlights: One of 10 finalists for Michigan Miss Volleyball; led Broncos to 58-9 record and second Class B state championship in three years; first-team all-TVC-East; delivered 1,288 assists; third on team with 311 digs; signed to play for Division 1 Campbell University.

Coach Jim Fish: “Madee was our floor general, she ran a great offense for us, she’ll be tough to replace, it feels like I’ve been coaching her forever.”

Becki Krause
Becki Krause

Player: Becki Krause

School: Brown City

Grade: 12

Position: Outside hitter

2016 highlights: Leading hitter on Class C state runner-up; averaged 4.4 kills per game and 2.9 blocks per game; first-team all-GTE; all-region; was third-team all-state last year

Coach Jenna Welke: “Becki is an outstanding player and teammate. Her leadership and perseverance really shows on the floor.”

Olivia Fike
Olivia Fike

Player: Olivia Fike

School: North Branch

Grade: 12

Position: Outside hitter/middle hitter

2016 highlights: Led Class B state champion with 567 kills; first-team all-TVC-East; signed to play at Wayne State University; returning first-team all-stater; four-year varsity starter finished career with four regional championships, two state titles and a runner-up.

Coach Jim Fish: “Olivia, with her athleticism at 6-1 is tough to find so we won’t be able to replace that, we’ll just have to find other ways to be competitive (next year).”

Rylee Zimmer
Rylee Zimmer

Player: Rylee Zimmer

School: Unionville-Sebewaing Area

Grade: 10

Position: Outside hitter/middle hitter

2016 highlights: Led Patriots to district championship, USA’s sixth in a row; paced team with 476 kills and 135 total blocks; second on squad with 347 digs; first-team all-GTW.

Coach Teresa Rose: “Rylee was a huge part of our offense, she is smart about where to put the ball and finds holes in the opposing team’s defense. She has a great vertical that let’s her get high enough to get over most blocks.”

Alexia Mason
Alexia Mason

Player: Alexia Mason

School: Brown City

Grade: 12

Position: Setter

2016 highlights: Averaged 7.4 assists per game for Class C runner up and GTE champion; first team all-GTE and all-region; 3.9 GPA; 2015 honorable mention all state

Coach Jenna Welke: “Lexi is one of the hardest working players I have coached. Her dedication and team leadership is outstanding.”

Lexie Davidson
Lexie Davidson

Player: Lexie Davidson

School: Croswell-Lexington

Grade: 11

Position: Outside hitter

2016 highlights: Led Pioneers with 512 kills; BWAC MVP; first team all-BWAC; all-region; all-Sanilac County selection; recorded 362 digs and 54 blocks; 4.0 GPA

Coach Ryan Wilson: “One of the most complete players in the Thumb. She is excellent in all facets of the game. Has the ability to carry a team offensively and is a fantastic teammate.”

All-Thumb Volleyball Second Team

Stephaney Fifield
Stephaney Fifield

Player: Stephaney Fifield

School: North Branch

Grade: 12

Position: Libero

2016 highlights: First-team all-TVC East; leading defender for state champion Broncos; led team with 567 digs; all-region; will play collegiately for Spring Arbor University

Coach Jim Fish: “Fifield is one of the best defensive players in the state. She is relentless and literally would run through a wall to get a ball — and we’ve had to stop her from doing so.”

Lauren Hecht
Lauren Hecht

Player: Lauren Hecht

School: Reese

Grade: 12

Position: Setter

2016 highlights: Helped Rockets to 9-1 GTW record and first league championship since 2010; first-team all-GTW; ended career with district championship.

Coach Gary Thompson: “What makes her great is her consistency, you never had to talk to her about that, she was always consistent and on-point. She was captain for us and good leader, and she’s a hard worker.”

Sayge Cuthrell
Sayge Cuthrell

Player: Sayge Cuthrell

School: Cass City

Grade: 12

Position: Middle hitter/setter

2016 highlights: First team all-GTW; hybrid player who can play anywhere on the court; averaged 9.5 kills and 7.5 per game; helped Red Hawks to second place in GTW with 8-2 record

Coach Amy Cuthrell: “Sayge is a three-year varsity volleyball athlete and one of two players that played all-around in 2016 Cass City roster. Sayge was the leading strong middle hitter and blocker in her front row rotations (and) also competed in her back row rotations as a setter.”

Jasmin Bender
Jasmin Bender

Player: Jasmin Bender

School: Brown City

Grade: 11

Position: Libero

2016 highlights: First team all-GTE; first team all-region; led Class runner-up with 4.1 digs per game; three year varsity starter

Coach Jenna Welke: “Jasmin’s aggressiveness and instincts in the back row are crucial to our team’s success. She is one of the best competitors I’ve coached.”

Allyson Severance
Allyson Severance

Player: Allyson Severance

School: North Branch

Grade: 10

Position: Outside hitter

2016 highlights: Returning first team all-stater delivered 177 kills, despite missing the first half of the season with a shoulder injury; second team all-TVC-East; one of top sophomores in Michigan; led Broncos in kills in Class B state championship win over Lake Odessa Lakewood, earning Tournament Player of the Year honors

Coach Jim Fish: “Allyson overcame a pretty serious shoulder injury and, lucky for us, played her best volleyball of the season in the state tournament and was dominate from regionals on. Her future is unlimited.”

Claire Knapp
Claire Knapp

Player: Claire Knapp

School: Croswell-Lexington

Grade: 12

Position: Libero

2016 highlights: First team all-BWAC; finished season with 657 digs; team captain was 94.33 percent on serving and 95.99 percent on service receptions

Coach Ryan Wilson: “The strongest defensive player I have coached in 10 years. Her ability to read the ball is fantastic and she is a rock on defense and service receive. (Knapp) makes amazing plays look second nature.”

Honorable mention

Raegan Gembarski, Kinde-North Huron

Breezy Fischer, Kinde-North Huron

Heidi Ewald, Caseville

Olivia Grates, Caseville

Cameryn Brown, Caro

Rebecca Oden, Croswell-Lexington

Janel Ruhlman, North Branch

Kelsey Bouverette, Cass City

Madison Thompson, Reese

Katie Engelhardt, USA

Kendall Muxlow, Brown City

Carley Smith, Kingston

Emma Cubitt, Bad Axe

Madisyn Guza, Deckerville

Haley Nelson, Sandusky

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