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4Frenzy Game of the Week: Northville volleyball sets sights on spiking defending champ Novi

Wildcats host No. 5-ranked Mustangs in key KLAA match up

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Maybe it’s time.

Maybe it’s time for the Northville volleyball team to stake its claim as the top  team in the Kensington Lakes Athletics Association Gold Division.

Or maybe it’s time three-time defending state champion Novi reasserts its dominance.

An answer may come Tuesday night when the rivals and perennial volleyball powers meet in a key league showdown.

“I think,” Northville coach Julie Fisette said, “our time is long overdue.”

Fisette has reason to be confident.

Her Mustangs are ranked fifth in the state coaches’ poll and are 30-4-1 overall after winning the Birmingham Marian tournament on Oct. 6. 

So far this season, Northville has recorded victories over ranked teams Lake Orion, Marian and Rochester Stoney Creek. 

And, thanks to an experienced and deep group, the Mustangs believe they can accomplish more.

Senior libero Hannah Grant, a Michigan State recruit, leads Northville.

“She’s amazing at being able to see balls and recover balls that are blocked,” Fisette said. “She moves very well on the court, and she’s a great leader.”

Senior setter Gabi Fisette not only sets up her teammates on the court, she also sets a light tone, according to her coach - and her mother - Julie Fisette.

“She’s kind of the kid who’ll make everyone smile,” coach Fisette said. “She’s helped guide us.”

The Mustangs’ top hitter is junior Clare McNamara, a three-sport star. McNamara often leads the team in kills, and she is one of the team’s top blockers.

“Look up athlete in the dictionary and her picture has to be there,” Fisette said.

Northville also has a talented group of sophomores making valuable contributions.

“My bench is so deep,” Fisette said. “We have four or five players that can put the ball down and score for us.”

But for this to be Northville’s time, the Mustangs will have to get past Novi. And that won’t be easy.

The Wildcats are 27-6 overall and have advanced to the gold bracket in every tournament in which they’ve participated.

That’s a big achievement considering Novi graduated several players from last year’s squad that won a third consecutive Class A state championship. The Wildcats also have a new head coach in Kacy Moran.

“It has been such an honor and blast to take over Novi,” Moran said. “I feel so lucky to be the head coach for such a successful program. The players have made this season unforgettable and the parents have been so supportive. We are having a lot of success and are improving day by day.”

Senior outside hitter Jaeda Porter paces the Novi attack. Other top players for the Wildcats include junior setter Shannon Jennings, sophomore libero Rachel Jennings and sophomore outside hitter Gaby Cummings.

“I think that the Novi vs. Northville game is going to be very exciting and fast-paced,” Moran said. “I know that my team is going to be extremely pumped up, especially with it being a home match for us. I think that one of the challenges that Northville might present is that they are mainly led by seniors, whereas my squad is led by quite a few underclassmen.”

In recent times, Novi has dominated the series against Northville.

“They’re a team I’m never going to underestimate,” Fisette said. “It’s a huge rivalry. It always has been.”
Fisette has posted a sterling record in her four years at Northville, but she has lost four matches to Novi during her tenure. Last year, the Wildcats ended the Mustangs’ season in the district tournament, leaving the squad frustrated as they watched other teams move on in the playoffs.

“This is kind of the redemption year,” Fisette said. “So I they’re hungry. I think they believe in what we have. We’re excited for Tuesday, and hopefully we’ll see them again in district.”

Time will tell.