Olivia Kowalkowski

Posted On: 09/8/20 11:34 AM

Division 2 has had some talented liberos graduate over the last year.

Experience at the position isn’t deep in 2020, but one squad has managed to stockpile arguably the best defense in the entire state.

Here’s a look at some of the top backcourt players in Division 2 for 2020.

Olivia KowalkowskiOliviaKowalkowski5'4" | LNotre Dame Prep | 2021StateMI, Sr. Notre Dame Prep

The extremely deep Notre Dame Prep backcourt starts with Kowalkowski, a fourth-year varsity player for the Irish. Her personality shows in her play, as she brings a lot of enthusiasm and spirit to the floor. Don’t let that fool you though, as the Georgia State commit is also a fierce competitor. Last fall she was Second Team All-State while helping ND Prep back to Battle Creek. She had 676 digs and has over 1,270 the last two seasons combined.

Kylee Crandall, Sr. Harper Creek

Another four-year varsity player, Crandall was Third Team All-State in 2019. The defensive leader for the Beavers always puts herself in good position to keep the play alive. With years of big-match experience, Crandall has a lot of composure with her play and has the athleticism to make the plays other liberos can’t quite make.

Olivia KowalkowskiOliviaKowalkowski5'4" | LNotre Dame Prep | 2021StateMI, Sr. Notre Dame Prep The extremely deep Notre Dame Prep backcourt starts with Kowalkowski, a fourth-year varsity player for the Irish. Her personality shows in her play, as she brings a lot of enthusiasm and spirit to the floor. Don’t let that fool you though, as the Georgia State commit is also a fierce competitor. Last fall she was Second Team All-State while helping ND Prep back to Battle Creek. She had 676 digs and has over 1,270 the last two seasons combined. Kylee Crandall, Sr. Harper Creek Another four-year varsity player, Crandall was Third Team All-State in 2019. The defensive leader for the Beavers always puts herself in good position to keep the play alive. With years of big-match experience, Crandall has a lot of composure with her play and has the athleticism to make the plays other liberos can’t quite make. Lauren PealLaurenPeal5'10" | LGrand Rapids Christian | 2021StateMI, Sr. Grand Rapids Christian [player_tooltip player_id="50307" first="Lauren" last="Peal"] A lot has been made of the GRC offense in recent years, with good reason. However, the Eagles wouldn’t be able to do what they have on offense without the play of Peal. The senior was Third Team All-State for the 2019 championship squad. She had 444 digs and went about her business, making tough plays and keeping the GRC offense in-system. Peal’s consistency made the Eagles a complete team. Josie BloomJosieBloom5'5" | DSNotre Dame Prep | 2022StateMI, Jr. Notre Dame Prep Bloom can hold her own with anyone at the position and she provides a tremendous 1-2 punch on defense for the Irish alongside Kowalkowski. She was Third Team All-State in 2019 with 523 digs and 94 aces. Bloom has great poise and vision on the court and has consistently performed at a high level in big matches. No point is too big for her. Already having improved a great deal, Bloom finds a way to get even better each match. Brooklyn Broadway, Sr. Edwardsburg The Eddies were a set shy of being a regional champion in 2019 and they have high hopes for 2020 thanks to their veteran libero. Broadway earned Honorable Mention All-State honors in 2019 for Edwardsburg. She moves instinctively on the floor, not having to overthink her position or skills. Plays often look effortless for her, even though they are quite challenging. Kallieanne Cook, Soph. Birch Run One of few freshman to earn All-Region honors around the state in 2019, Cook was very impressive in her first year of varsity play. She had 460 digs last fall while helping Birch Run earn a district championship. Cook already had the competitive fire to succeed, now she is adding experience and polishing her skills to become a complete player. Sierra Nausieda, Jr. Grand Rapids Catholic Central Nausieda has been able to build on her skillset by playing against some of the top hitters from the Grand Rapids area in recent years. She had to grow up quickly, and has managed to do so. Nausieda led GRCC to a district championship last fall and her athleticism has jumped up a level for 2020. Look for big things from her this fall. Alison Berent, Soph. Notre Dame Prep Even with two standout DS options already, the Irish were spoiled with a third in 2019 in Berent. She found her way onto the floor enough as a freshman to accumulate 345 digs and 47 aces. Berent has all the foundational skills to be great. Add in the valuable experience she is gaining by playing alongside Kowalkowski and Bloom, and Berent is set to be a big star in the backcourt down the road. Honorable Mention: Riley HoffmanRileyHoffman5'6" | LForest Hills Eastern | 2021StateMI, Sr. Forest Hills Eastern; Taryn Eckert, Jr. Clio; Jen Johnson, Sr. Hamilton; Teagan Giannunzio, Sr. Marshall; Gracie Brinkerhoff, Sr. Huron

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