Ali Bastianelli and Katherine Carlson have been volleyball club teammates for years.
Today, Bastianelli, a senior middle blocker from tradition-rich Marysville, will try to keep Carlson and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep from repeating as Class B champions in what shapes up as a great regional final.
The match will be held at Marysville, where nine state championship banners hang in the gym.
Bastianelli gets to see them every day at practice and home games. She’d like to add another before she heads to Illinois to play for the Fighting Illini next season.
The imposing 6-foot-2 star put her name in the record books with 34 kills in a four-set victory Tuesday night against Armada.
“She beat the single-game mark by eight; she’d be too humble to tell you,” said coach Ryan Welser.
Said Bastianelli: “I’m totally just blown away by that. I’m really shocked, I’m not going to lie.”
Notre Dame coach Betty Wroubel described her as a player who “can absolutely bring it.”
Bastianelli is so good that, last week, she was named first-team Under Armour All-America by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
She was the only player in the state of Michigan to be named to the first team. Carlson, a finalist for Miss Volleyball in the state of Michigan, was honorable mention.
Bastianelli isn’t a finalist for the award.
“At first, it bothered me a little bit,” said Bastianelli. “I thought I should have been a finalist. But after awhile, it didn’t bother me anymore. Just seeing the awards that I’m getting now, like the All-American thing … . It really doesn’t faze me anymore. Katherine and I are good friends, and I’ve been playing club with her for the past three years. We hang out outside of volleyball.”
A total of 24 players made the first team (300 were nominated). Bastianelli, obviously, was good enough to make the grade.
“This is a big deal,” said Welser. “Not just for volleyball, but all sports in the state of Michigan.”
Each of the players on the first team will be invited to play in the Under Armour All-America Volleyball Match and Skills Competition. The event will be held at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Dec. 19, in conjunction with the 2014 AVCA Annual Convention.
“I was fortunate to be one of the 24 girls, and one of the girls is actually going to be my setter (Jordyn Poulter), and I can’t wait to play with her,” she said.
She hopes to have a state championship medal around her neck at that event. Marysville hasn’t won one since 2006.
“I came in here my freshman year, and we really didn’t have the huge success that we had in previous years,” she said. “There’s a lot of things that go into that. Our skills went down a little bit, and we weren’t focusing on fundamentals as much. We kind of lost some of the tradition, but our freshman year, we brought some of it back. Then my sophomore and junior year, we kind of lost touch, but it’s coming back. We see the banners that hang in our gym and we want another one up there.
“I think Coach has done an awesome job of getting the program where it should be and I think we’re a strong team.”
Before Tuesday’s outburst, Bastianelli had 581 kills (5.19 kills per game), a .364 hitting percentage, 141 blocks (a single-season record at Marysville), 65 aces (team high this year), 146 digs and 152 serve receptions.
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.
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