Posted On: 07/26/20 1:09 PM
A good libero can mean the difference between a good season and a great one.
In Division 2, a number of top programs have not only a great libero, but a few other standout DS options as well.
Division 2 is set to field a handful of the best defensive teams in the entire state in 2020. Here’s a look at some of the best of those defensive squads.
Notre Dame Prep
The Irish rode their defense to a D2 semifinal appearance in 2019 and the Irish return all the key pieces in 2020. There may not be a better defense in the state than NDP. Olivia Kowalkowski Olivia Kowalkowski 5'4" | DS/L Notre Dame Prep | 2021 State MI is a fourth-year varsity player for the Irish. The libero has great enthusiasm on the floor and plays at an elite level. Josie Bloom Josie Bloom 5'6" | DS/L Notre Dame Prep | 2022 State MI is one of the top L/DS options in the Class of 2022 and makes for a dynamite pair of defenders in the back row for NDP. Allison Berent Allison Berent 5'6" | DS/L Notre Dame Prep | 2023 State MI is also a standout defender for the Class of 2023. She is sure to be a name to watch in years to come. Notre Dame also has a technically sound passer in Olivia Kowalkowski Olivia Kowalkowski 5'4" | DS/L Notre Dame Prep | 2021 State MI is a fourth-year varsity player for the Irish. The libero has great enthusiasm on the floor and plays at an elite level. Josie Bloom Josie Bloom 5'6" | DS/L Notre Dame Prep | 2022 State MI is one of the top L/DS options in the Class of 2022 and makes for a dynamite pair of defenders in the back row for NDP. Allison Berent Allison Berent 5'6" | DS/L Notre Dame Prep | 2023 State MI is also a standout defender for the Class of 2023. She is sure to be a name to watch in years to come. Notre Dame also has a technically sound passer in Alyssa Borellis Alyssa Borellis 5'11" | S Notre Dame Prep | 2022 State MI . She does everything very well. Grand Rapids Christian [player_tooltip player_id="50307" first="Lauren" last="Peal"] The two-time defending D2 champs were an offensive power last year, but this year the Eagles may need to turn a little more to the defense. That shouldn’t be a problem as GRC has an outstanding libero in Lauren Peal Lauren Peal 5'10" | DS/L Grand Rapids Christian | 2021 State MI . Peal has a lot of big-match experience and her play in recent years has made her an unsung hero for the team. Addie VanderWeide Addie VanderWeide 6'1" | OH Grand Rapids Christian | 2021 State MI has improved on her passing year-to-year and that trend will continue in 2020. Elizabeth Rupp is a senior DS that really compliments Peal well in the back row. The Eagles also have some strong blocking, led by Evelyn Doezema Evelyn Doezema 6'2" | OH Grand Rapids Christian | 2022 State MI , a 6’3” junior MH/OH. Lakewood The Vikings have a big hole to fill with Kiana Hummel graduating at the libero position, but Lakewood should still be a defensive power in D2 this season. The Vikings used Paige Wolverton and Alli Pickard in the back row as freshmen, so both should be ready to step up in 2020. Maradith O’Gorman Maradith O’Gorman 6'2" | RS Lakewood | 2022 State MI and Aubrey O’Gorman Aubrey O’Gorman 6'3" | MB Lakewood | 2021 State MI are great blocking options and will challenge any opposing hitter. Both are also improving a lot with their passing skills around the floor. Sophie Duits also showcases a lot of smooth passing as an outside hitter for Lakewood. Montague The Wildcats bring a solid team to the floor in 2020 and that will include a defense that they can rely on. Maddy Wynn graduated at libero, but Morgan Netcott is very capable of filling into the role. She was a productive sophomore DS for the Wildcats and plays with the skills and poise of a senior leader. Reilly Murphy Reilly Murphy 5'9" | OH Montague | 2021 MI and Taylor Netcott are two outsides that have sound passing skills and can make an impact defensively for Montague. Ally Hall is also an imposing middle for the Wildcats. She had over 100 blocks as a junior and reads the floor very well. Marshall The Redhawks should like everything about their 2020 team. Along with a lot of returning hitters, Marshall should also bring back one of the top defenses in D2. Teagan Giannunzio was All-Region at libero last fall. She leads a deep DS bench of five returning players that can handle back row duties. Marshall’s outsides, led by Abby Welke have shown the ability to excel in the pass game as well. Welke is also a great blocking option up front alongside Olivia Webber. The two were Second Team All-State players in 2019. Birch Run The 2019 season was a strong one for the Panthers, who reached the regional championship round. In 2020, Birch Run is set to be led by its defense. At libero, Kallianne Cook was one of the top freshmen performers in the back row last well. Cook should come into her sophomore season with a lot of confidence and improved instincts on the floor. Emma McIlhargie is another great passing option that plays outside. She has a complete game and is like another DS when in the back row. Ally Lasley was a L/DS captain as a junior and brings her leadership back for 2020. The Panthers also have two other returning DS options and three returning middles to build off of. Hamilton A D2 quarterfinalist in 2019, the Hawkeyes have a hunger for more in 2020. Defense will have to be the building block in 2020 as Hamilton looks to replace some valuable outside hitters. Jen Johnson will be up for the challenge. The senior libero was All-Region as a junior. She did a great job of keeping Hamilton in-system throughout 2019 with her passing and serve receive ability. Taylor Getty is a returning DS option for the Hawkeyes as well. When it comes to blocking and patrolling the middle, they don’t get much better than AJ Ediger AJ Ediger 6'2" | MB Hamilton | 2021 State MI . The explosive senior has all the tools and doesn’t make it easy on opposing hitters. Harper Creek The Beavers were a young team in 2019, which led to some bumps and bruises, but the Beavers should be a highly-competitive team in 2020, at least from a defensive standpoint. Kylee Crandall was an All-State libero as a junior and is ready to build on that for her senior year. Crandall’s competitive fire makes her game for any challenge. Payton Rice was a freshman outside in 2019 and has the potential for a lot of overall growth in 2020. Kendyl Ashley saw some time in the back row as a sophomore last year as well. She comes into her junior year with a lot of confidence while learning from her veteran teammate. Edwardsburg The Eddies have to work in some new pieces on offense for 2020, but the defensive positions are locked in. Brooklyn Broadway is a standout senior libero that earned All-Region honors in 2019. She has the keen eye you need in the back row and is also willing to give up her body to keep a ball in play. Delaney Borkowski is a returning hitter and DS option for the Eddies as well. They give Edwardsburg a lot of senior leadership to rely on defensively.