CORUNNA – Like many top prep prospects today, Meredith Norris was exposed to the recruiting whirlwind at a young age.
Entering high school, the summer after eighth grade, the Corunna native was starting to receive attention from volleyball coaches all over the country. She had recently left her Lansing club team to play down in Detroit.
The attention, the notoriety, it was all new.
“I’ve always wanted to play at the next level, but when I was young I didn’t really know what that next level was,” said Norris, who is now a junior at Corunna High School. “When I got my first offer, when I went down to the University of Central Florida and visited, I wasn’t expecting it for sure. I didn’t really know what was going on. But then it hit me that all these other schools were looking at me.
“Once I hit eighth grade and the recruiting process was heavy, I knew I wanted to go to a Division I school.”
As the process revved up and her options broadened, Norris indulged in the propaganda with an open mind. But she knew where she wanted to eventually end up.
It wasn’t Northwestern, Maryland or UCF – the programs which made formal attempts to acquire the 6-foot-3 outside hitter. It was the school that has been a piece of her since she was a youngster.
“I grew up around Michigan State,” said Norris, who verbally committed to Cathy George and the Spartans as a sophomore. “My dad is a doctor for hockey, volleyball and baseball, so I kind of grew up a Spartan.
“So when it came time, I opened my options but I knew in the back of my head that Michigan State was the place to be.”
While Norris has mostly caught the national eye through her club team, Michigan Elite Volleyball Academy, she’s been on a demolition spree at the high school level, etching her name in the record books and setting the precedent at Corunna.
According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association record books, the future Spartan currently holds the all-time state record for most kills in a five-game match with 53 – a feat she captured in last year’s Class B district championship win over Goodrich.
Earlier in her sophomore season, Norris, who was Class B first team all-state last year, had matches with 42 and 38 kills, which respectively puts her at third and seventh in the same category.
Two weeks ago, she surpassed 2,000 career kills and placed herself in the top 10 on the all-time kills list.
“She’s probably been the highest-caliber kid that I’ve coached,” Corunna coach Kari Carnell said. “We’ve had some talented kids, but not ones that put in the work outside like her.
“She came in with such a sound fundamental background in the sport of volleyball. She’s been working at it since she was really young, with her mom being the (former) varsity coach. Since the moment she’s entered our program, she’s been a very good prospect.”
With Norris’ arrival, the Cavaliers have reached heights they hadn’t touched since the mid-2000s. The past two seasons Corunna has captured its district championship – something the program hadn’t done previously since 2006.
The expectations have been rising each year — the Cavaliers currently have a record of 26-5-5 and are an honorable mention team in the state rankings – and anything less than a three-peat in the district tournament would be somewhat of a disappointment.
“It’s really important, especially with where we’re at,” Norris said. “Even though we didn’t lose a lot of people, it’s still important to know that the other team can just be better than us. We still need to go out and fight.
“I count it as an expectation to achieve that.”
(Note: This story was updated to show that Meredith Norris was not the first volleyball player from Corunna to receive a Division I scholarship.)
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.