It was a long morning for Meredith Norris. She came arrived at Corunna High School with a puffy face after a dentist appointment.
Then she got a tweet from a friend, alerting her that she had been named Michigan’s Miss Volleyball minutes before a celebratory assembly. Grandmothers Mary Norris and Maple Smith surprised her, along with grandfather Harvey Norris and aunt Terre Smith.
“It was still really cool,” Norris said. “My face was numb until 20 minutes ago, so I’m really glad that resolved itself. That would’ve been awkward.’’
Norris won the closest Michigan Miss Volleyball vote ever, edging Novi’s Alyssa Cummings, 160-159, in voting points. Norris had 22 first-place votes Cummings had 19.
“Wow,’’ Norris said of the close vote total.
Lexi Nordmann of DeWitt was third in voting conducted by the Michigan Volleyball Coaches Association, with 127.
The 6-foot-3 senior outside hitter made up her mind at an early age that volleyball would be her ticket to a college scholarship. She is headed to Michigan State next season.
“My eighth-grade history and conditioning teacher made that phrase up for me: D-I or D-none,” Norris said. “He’s a lifelong friend and an amazing person. He’s the AD at Fowlerville right now, Brian Osborn. He made it up for me, and I stuck to it.’’
Norris became only the second player in Michigan history to record 3,000 kills in her career. She also led the team to its first regional championship and has a Tuesday date against Cadillac in Grayling for a chance to advance to the Class B state semifinal at Battle Creek.
She has 3,093 kills, 306 aces, 2,182 digs, 289 blocks and 283 assists in her career. Norris also has the top two all-time single-game kill marks (56 and 53), according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association, and four of the top 13.
Incredibly, the team lost when she set the record against Goodrich last year.
“It was the district final,’’ she said. “We had an amazing fight. We were down, 16-24, and came back and won the set, 32-30. I don’t even know how to explain it. Then we came back down, 9-14, in the fifth set and came back to within 14-13, and they scored that last final point, and it was heartbreaking. We worked so hard and we just couldn’t pull out the win. That same team went to the quarterfinals. Imagine if we would’ve gotten one more point.’’
When Norris was born in 1999, her mother, Nikki, was coaching volleyball at Corunna. As she grew up, Meredith would find herself bouncing around the gym during practices and at the end of the bench during games, soaking up what was happening on the floor.
“I remember one trip to Warren, I had both girls in the car, and she said, ‘I’m doing this to get a college scholarship,’’’ said Nikki, now the school’s athletic director. “I said, ‘Oh, that is not our intention for you. That’s not our expectation. I don’t want you to feel the pressure that you need to get a college scholarship.’
“I told her I just wanted her to do what she loved. She said, ‘Well, that’s what I’m going to do.’ … It has been a lot of fun to watch her work and understand what it takes to achieve that goal.’’
Added coach Kari Carnell: “She has worked extremely hard; she’s a definite student of the game. She picks things up quickly. She set goals for herself and she has been able to reach them by working hard and getting it and understanding it. She has traveled all over to play volleyball. She has a lot of experience. She has an awesome job of representing herself and the things she stands for.’’
Even though she stands out physically and athletically, Norris embraces her teammates.
“She’s a really good friend and super at volleyball,’’ said Skye Rivett, her best friend on the team. “She’s easy to talk to and really understanding. She’s not cocky about it. She could be, but she’s not. It kind of rubs off. Everyone wants to be that good to impress her. She makes everyone a little bit better.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @farrellperry.
2016 Miss Volleyball voting
Meredith Norris, Corunna, 160
Alyssa Cummings, Novi, 159
Lexi Nordmann, DeWitt, 127
Ali Finch, Cadillac, 107
Charley Andrews, Harper Creek, 95
Madison Miner, North Branch, 81
Emily Martin, Northville, 70
Stefanie Jankiewicz, Farmington Hills Harrison, 37
Emmalee Flagstead, Montague, 28
Past Miss Volleyball winners
2003: Linsey Taatjes, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
2004: Angie McGinnis, Fraser
2005: Stephanie Booms, Marysville
2006: Alisha Glass, Leland
2007: Lauren Jones, East Kentwood
2007: Kyndra Abron, Livonia Churchill
2008: Olivia Kohler, North Branch
2009: Alexandra Cocklin, Birmingham Marian
2010: Jordan Fish, North Branch
2011: Maddy Doyle, Farmington Hills Mercy
2012: Amanda McKinzie, Battle Creek St. Philip
2013: Carli Snyder, Macomb Dakota
2014: Katharine Carlson, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
2015: Gia Milana, Romeo