St. Philip and Leland have some history on the volleyball court.
But all of that will be put aside tonight when the two teams square off in the Class D state quarterfinal round at Big Rapids High School, beginning at 7 p.m.
“Laurie Glass is a phenomenal coach, so I think it’s going to be a battle,” St. Philip head coach Vicky Groat said of her counterpart. “It’s up in Big Rapids, so it’s a little drive for us, but I look forward to it.”
Groat and Glass are both Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame members and have over 1,500 combined career wins. The coaches have met in three state finals, with Glass winning in 2002 and 2006, and Groat winning the first of her seven titles in 2005.
The winner of the quarterfinal advances to the state semifinal on Friday at Kellogg Arena against the Onaway/Crystal Falls Forest Park quarterfinal winner. The Class D state championship match is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m.
Since the Michigan High School Athletic Association added a quarterfinal round in 1995, the Tigers have never lost in the quarterfinals, going 15-0.
The top-ranked Tigers are the six-time defending state champions and have won a state-record 17 titles at the school. St. Philip is led by 6-foot senior outside hitter Amanda McKinzie, who was named the Miss Volleyball Award winner on Monday.
Tonight won’t be the first time in the rivalry that a Miss Volleyball Award winner played for either squad. Leland’s Alisha Glass earned the prestigious award in 2006 before winning three national titles at Penn State and becoming a U.S. Olympian.
Leland handed St. Philip its last loss in the state tournament when Alisha Glass led the Comets to a win over the Tigers in the 2006 championship match with a state-record 48 kills. St. Philip’s first state championship came in 1979 — after a thrilling three-set victory over Leland in the state final.
“There’s a lot of history looking at the teams that are left,” Groat said. “Back in ’06, when we last lost in the state championship, it was Leland and Alisha Glass, so there is history and good battles. The schools respect each other, so it should be a great match.”