Division 2 has consistently been a three-team race in recent years, while a fourth outsider has gotten in the mix.
Grand Rapids Christian, Lakewood and Notre Dame Prep keep finding the right formulas to get to Kellogg Arena, while Cadillac made the long journey to the semifinals in 2020.
Can the power three make another trip in 2021? Will Cadillac find a way to join the elite mix with back-to-back appearances?
Here’s the big questions for last year’s semifinal squads in Division 2.
Grand Rapids Christian
[player_tooltip player_id="24853" first="Evelyn" last="Doezema"]
The Eagles have been the dominant Division 2 program for three years running, sweeping the last three state finals. While the 2020 season was a big test in replacing Jordyn GatesJordynGates6'3" | SGR Christian | 2020StateMI at setter, the Eagles must now replace a number of marquee players from last year’s team. Most notably are standout outside hitter Addie VanderWeideAddieVanderWeide6'1" | OHGrand Rapids Christian | 2021StateMI, libero Lauren PealLaurenPeal5'10" | DS/LGrand Rapids Christian | 2021StateMI and middle Stephanie StewartStephanieStewart6'0" | OHGR Christian | 2021StateMI. That leaves the big question for the Eagles – can they make it four straight titles? Though the graduation losses are great, GRC still has a lot of talent to work with. Evelyn DoezemaEvelynDoezema6'2" | OHGrand Rapids Christian | 2022StateMI can be a dominant 6’3” outside hitter that still has a lot of room to grow. This fall should really be her chance to shine and show that she can lead a team. Alyssa DeVries had the challenge of replacing Gates in 2020 and did it with flying colors. She moves smoothly on the court and should enter 2021 with a lot of confidence to help develop new go-to hitters. Kate Breems could see a bigger role in the middle, as could Makenzie Ritsema, a strong 2023 middle prospect that has had to wait her turn in the talent-heavy GRC program. Perhaps the biggest concern for GRC will be with its back row. Five of its top six dig leaders from 2020 have graduated.
[player_tooltip player_id="24871" first="Maradith" last="O’Gorman"]
The Vikings have finished runner-up the last two seasons, but it seemed like that 2020 team was most primed to win it all. Now, Lakewood will have to adjust as it loses dominant middle Aubrey O’GormanAubreyO’Gorman6'3" | MBLakewood | 2021StateMI to Michigan State. When paired alongside sister Maradith O’GormanMaradithO’Gorman6'2" | RSLakewood | 2022StateMI, Lakewood had a nearly unstoppable duo. This year, Maradith will have to be that dominant force on her own as a senior on the right side. The big question for Lakewood is which players will help make up for the massive loss of Aubrey? Both Kenzie Wells and Ellie Possehn got some regular swings on the outside and could see an increased load this fall to balance out the offense. A big positive for the Vikings is they have Skylar BumpSkylarBump5'7" | SLakewood | 2023StateMI returning for a third season as stater at setter. Bump has a lot of big-match experience for a Class of 2023 member. Defensively, Carley PiercefieldCarleyPiercefield5'4" | DS/LLakewood | 2024StateMI was one of the top freshman in the state in 2020 and will return to lead the defense as a sophomore.
Notre Dame Prep
[player_tooltip player_id="24842" first="Josie" last="Bloom"]
The Irish were “young” in 2019 when they reached the state semifinals, then went on to return the majority of their roster for 2020. Somehow, the same applied last season. Notre Dame Prep graduated just one player from their semifinal roster of last year. While it’s a big loss in four-year player Olivia KowalkowskiOliviaKowalkowski5'4" | DS/LNotre Dame Prep | 2021StateMI in the back row, the Irish have had an embarrassment of riches defensively in recent seasons. Josie BloomJosieBloom5'6" | DS/LNotre Dame Prep | 2022StateMI could be the top defender in the state and will be a veteran senior leader. Allison BerentAllisonBerent5'6" | DS/LNotre Dame Prep | 2023StateMI is also a strong defensive option entering her junior year. She can see an increased load this year with Kowalkowski moving on to college play. This year’s Irish team will be senior-driven with Alyssa BorellisAlyssaBorellis5'11" | SNotre Dame Prep | 2022StateMI leading the way at setter and right side hitter. She’s a complete player in every sense of the word and is driven to get Irish back to Kellogg Arena. Sophia SudzinaSophiaSudzina5'10" | OHNotre Dame Prep | 2022StateMI was a consistent finisher on the outside, while Bianca GiglioBiancaGiglio5'10" | RSNotre Dame Prep | 2022StateMI really raised her game at the end of the 2020 season at MH/RS, and has raised her all-around play as a defender in club season. At setter, Margo Sudzina returns for her junior year to play alongside Borellis. The big question for the Irish will be the challenge it has faced in previous seasons, and that is a lack of size compared to elite teams in Division 2. NDP hasn’t had an answer for Lakewood’s size the past two semifinals. Will it’s technique and execution be sharp enough to go a step further?
[player_tooltip player_id="24845" first="Renee" last="Brines"]
The Vikings had been building toward a return trip to the semifinals over recent years and now the task will be finding a way to get back while turning to a new go-to player. Macy BrownMacyBrown5'10" | OHCadillac | 2021StateMI was the kill leader in the state last season, posting over 960 kills while taking over 2,450 swings. Cadillac will likely have to go with a committee approach to replacing Brown. Setter Renee BrinesReneeBrines5'9" | SCadillac | 2022StateMI is a great court leader that heads to her senior season. She will be able to raise the game of her inexperience hitters. Joslyn SeeleyJoslynSeeley5'10" | OHCadillac | 2023MI on the outside and Cailey Masserang in the middle will be returning options at the net. Layke Sims is also a 6’3” talent that can play the middle or outside and has a lot of upside heading into her junior year. Libero Julia Jezak graduated along with Brown, but the Vikings have a lot of returning defenders. Leading the way will be sophomore Brooke EllensBrookeEllens5'1" | DS/LCadillac | 2024MI and senior Zoey Feister.