Posted On: 07/23/20 11:34 AM

Defense wins championships.

It’s the motto of almost any sport.

In volleyball, a strong attack can get you far, but it’s a solid defense that will push a team to the very top.

In Division 1, here’s some teams that should be locked in defensively throughout the season.

Mercy

Amina RobinsonAminaRobinson5'9" | LMercy | 2022StateMI

Already with a dynamic offense, the Marlins also bring a very capable defense to the court for 2020. Amina RobinsonAminaRobinson5'9" | LMercy | 2022StateMI was handed the libero position in the middle of the 2019 season and stepped up as a sophomore. She played very smoothly in the back row and racked up 22 digs in the competitive Division 1 state final last November. Madi Malecki is an experienced DS Mercy can rely on as well, while Ella ShieldsEllaShieldsMercy | 2023MI saw some time in the back row as a freshman last year. The Marlins also have great blocking options in the middle and smooth passers on the outside.

Lowell

The Red Arrows had a steady defense help guide them to the Division 1 championship match last fall and many of the key pieces remain this year. Amina RobinsonAminaRobinson5'9" | LMercy | 2022StateMI[/caption] Already with a dynamic offense, the Marlins also bring a very capable defense to the court for 2020. Amina RobinsonAminaRobinson5'9" | LMercy | 2022StateMI was handed the libero position in the middle of the 2019 season and stepped up as a sophomore. She played very smoothly in the back row and racked up 22 digs in the competitive Division 1 state final last November. Madi Malecki is an experienced DS Mercy can rely on as well, while Ella ShieldsEllaShieldsMercy | 2023MI saw some time in the back row as a freshman last year. The Marlins also have great blocking options in the middle and smooth passers on the outside. Lowell The Red Arrows had a steady defense help guide them to the Division 1 championship match last fall and many of the key pieces remain this year. Emma HallEmmaHall5'11" | DSLowell | 2021StateMI is back at libero for her senior year to lead the defense. Hall has good instincts on the floor and makes the right choices. Jenna ReitsmaJennaReitsma5'11" | OHLowell | 2021StateMI is one of the best outsides in the state and her defensive play is just as strong as her offense. The loss of a veteran in the middle will be tough on the blocking, but Lowell has promising middles in Emily StruckmeyerEmilyStruckmeyer6'0" | MHLowell | 2022StateMI and Aubreigh OswaldAubreighOswaldLowell | 2023MI to patrol the net. Lake Orion The Dragons graduated a strong libero in Olivia Erwin, but Lake Orion still has arguably the top blocking middles in the state in Reagan GoekeReaganGoeke6'2" | MBLake Orion | 2021StateMI and Kendall RobertsonKendallRobertson6'2" | MHLake Orion | 2021StateMI. The two approached a combined 300 blocks in 2019, with Goeke being among the state leaders with 178 on her own. Anna Tomica was a DS that saw consistent play last fall and is ready to take on a larger role as a senior. The team’s outsides all return as well, adding another year of experience with their defensive skills. Novi The Wildcats haven’t had to worry about the libero position in years, as Rachel JenningsRachelJennings5'9" | LNovi | 2021StateMI has been the top player at her position in the Class of 2021 since she was a freshman. Jennings has a lot of experience and plenty of poise. There isn’t a spike she isn’t ready to take on. Her consistency throughout the years always has Novi as a threat in Division 1. Rachael Wexler is another senior DS for Novi that has experience to rely on. She is a great compliment to Jennings in the back row. Sophomore Sarah VellucciSarahVellucciNovi | 2023MI and senior Gaby Cummings have improved their passing as outsides and will take another step forward this year. In the middle, the Wildcats have some very capable blockers as well. Byron Center The Bulldogs have the luxury of bringing back Abby BoyleAbbyBoyle5'7" | LByron Center | 2021StateMI at libero this fall. Boyle was Second Team All-State in 2019 thanks to her dynamic play. Boyle gives her all to the position and kept Byron Center in a number of big points throughout the year. Helping her is junior outside Taylor HumphreyTaylorHumphrey6'1" | OHByron Center | 2022StateMI, who is improving on her defensive play each day. Anna ButlerAnnaButler5'11" | MHByron Center | 2021StateMI is also a strong middle that has a good read on her blocks to give Boyle a fighting chance on strong attacks that come her way. Amanda Hilliker is also a DS option that the Bulldogs can rely on. Marian The young Marian squad returns almost everyone back defensively in 2020. Lauren HemingLaurenHemingMarian | 2023MI showed a lot as a freshman libero in a very competitive conference and region. Her growth in the last year will be noticeable in 2020. Ava BrizardAvaBrizard6'0" | OHMarian | 2022StateMI is a highly-skilled, six-rotation outside that has smooth passing skills as well. Tatum CasperTatumCasper6'2" | OHMarian | 2022StateMI and Sophia TrederSophiaTreder6'0" | OHMarian | 2022StateMI are also improving outsides that add to the defense with their passing and blocking. Casper can also move to the middle alongside Sarah SylvesterSarahSylvester6'3" | MHMarian | 2022StateMI, a long junior middle that will be a wall defensively for the Mustangs to rely on. Northville The Mustangs graduate all-league libero Nyia SetlaNyiaSetla5'11" | DSNorthville | 2020StateMI, but Northville had three capable DS options in 2019 and returns two of those option in 2020. Both Livvy SetlaLivvySetla5'5" | LNorthville | 2021StateMI and Jessica MondragonJessicaMondragon5'6" | LNorthville | 2022StateMI are able to hold their own in the back row and play at a very high level. Both players can make the tough digs and stay composed during tense points. Jaden RiceJadenRice5'11" | OHNorthville | 2021StateMI is a strong middle for the Mustangs that holds down the blocking while Jenna BokshaJennaBoksha5'10" | OHNorthville | 2021StateMI is an outside that made great strides in her overall play in the last 12 months. DeWitt The Panthers had some struggles with their hitting in 2019, but their defense was a strong point. The defense should continue to shine in 2020, led by senior Grace Marshall. Marshall had over 650 digs last fall. She was the rock for the Panthers that kept them in big points and sets. Marshall has a lot of help around her, as Madison Yonkman and Taylor Adams are fellow senior defensive specialists that saw regular action for DeWitt in 2019. The Panthers also bring back a lot of hitters on the outside and middle that will piece together a strong defense. DeWitt has some promising blockers and outsides that have progressed well with their passing ability. Clarkston The Wolves have a lot of players that excel in multiple areas. Defensively, Summer JidasSummerJidas5'5" | LClarkston | 2022StateMI is a third-year libero as a junior and has plenty of big-match experience to rely on. Jidas is a physical player that really likes to compete. Claire NowickiClaireNowicki6'0" | OHClarkston | 2021StateMI is a strong defender as well. She is fundamentally sound on her passing and has a strong blocking game to compliment her attacking ability. The Wolves also have a few young talents that can add to this year’s defense. Paige Giethbrock saw some action on the outside as a freshman while Elizabeth Adams is due for a breakout junior year in the middle while playing alongside senior Sydney Hasenfratz. Alana WatlingtonAlanaWatlington5'9" | MHClarkston | 2021StateMI can really solidify the blocking for Clarkston as well if she’s able to bounce back from her knee injuries.

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