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Friday, December 3, 2010

All-Tribune Volleyball Team has diverse mix

UPPER THUMB — It was a wild and wacky 2010 volleyball season in the Huron Daily Tribune coverage area.
Some teams started strong, but faded at the end.
Other teams struggled early, but came on and produced winning seasons.
Overall, the play wasn’t spectacular, but it was exciting. 
Selecting the 2010 All-Huron Daily Tribune Volleyball Team was difficult this season. While there were no area superstars, there were plenty of solid players who deserved recognition.
This year’s first team consists of Bad Axe’s Taylor Breault and Taylor Braun, Caseville’s Rebecca Janke, Cass City’s McKensie Parrish, Deckerville’s Mandy Nichol, Ubly’s Jessica Gracey and Unionville-Sebewaing Area’s Samantha Eisengruber. Breault, Nichol and Parrish are the co-captains of the team.
Caseville’s David Watts was selected as Coach of the Year for the squad, which is voted on by selected area coaches and the Tribune’s sports staff.
Breault’s net play and Braun’s defensive work formed a nifty 1-2 punch for the Hatchets.
Breault, a four-year varsity player, had 318 kills, good for a 2.61 per game average. She also had 38 blocks and served at 86 percent with 28 aces.
“Taylor’s one of the most powerful hitters in our league,” said Bad Axe coach Mindy Breault. “She is difficult to defend because of her height and strength. Opponents always concentrate on stopping her when she is in the front row. 
“She’s also a model of inspiration because, although she sat out her junior year with a torn ACL, she still came to practice every day last year and had to work very hard in rehab to come back and play the way she has played this year.”
Breault earned first-team All-Greater Thumb West honors, as well as All-Region and honorable mention All-State.
Braun has been Bad Axe’s libero the past few seasons, using her athletic ability to dig and frustrate many of the area’s top hitters.
“Taylor is a gutsy defender who reads the hitters very well,” Breault said. “She is definitely our vocal leader on the court. She is a very consistent serve receiver and led our team in serving percentage as well. Taylor always gives 110 percent all the time.”
Braun, a first-team All-GTW pick, had 722 digs, good for a 5.92 per game average. She also served at 96 percent with 55 aces and had a 91 percent serve reception. She finishes her career among the school’s all-time leaders in digs with 1,605.
“Both of the Taylors will be greatly missed next season not only because of their volleyball skills, but because of their leadership both on and off the court,” Breault said. “This excellent life skill will serve them well as they continue on to college.”
Caseville’s Janke was a four-year starter for the Eagles, racking up 135 kills, 226 digs, 112 aces and 43 assists this season.
“She was our team co-captain, our on-court team leader and an extremely versatile all-around player,” said Caseville coach David Watts.
Janke also was a first-team All-North Central Thumb League North Division selection.
Cass City’s Parrish is a repeat first-team All-Tribune selection. 
The Red Hawk libero registered 468 digs, 48 assists, 41 kills and served at 90 percent with 59 aces. 
“McKensie is a strong server, an excellent receiver and an awesome defensive specialist,” said Cass City coach Brenda Sherman. “She has an uncanny ability to read hitters and dig up what they send over. She has great court sense and is a very athletic and smart player.”
Parrish earned first-team All-GTW honors, as well as All-Region and third-team Class C All-State.
Deckerville’s Nichol is the other repeat first-team All-Tribune performer.
Nichol averaged 3.86 kills, 3.38 digs and 0.5 blocks per game for the Eagles. She also served at a 93 percent clip.
“She led our team in kills and blocks for three seasons,” said Deckerville coach Carl Krumenacker.
Nichol earned first-team All-NCTL South Division, All-Region and honorable mention Class D All-State.
In her four years with Deckerville, Nichol helped the Eagles capture four district championships and two regional titles.
Ubly’s Gracey was a bit of a surprise for the Bearcats and coach Andy Gusa this season.
The hard-hitting lefty had 313 kills, 350 digs, 98 blocks and served at a 90 percent clip.
“Jessica led our team in kills and blocks, and she was positive in every situation,” Gusa said. “Jessica really enjoyed playing the game. Her left-handed spike was very hard to read.”
Gracey also earned first-team All-GTE honors this season.
USA’s Eisengruber is the lone junior on the All-Tribune squad.
She racked up 301 kills, 56 blocks and served at a 96 percent clip with 40 aces.
“Sam is a great middle hitter,” said USA coach Teresa Rose. “She can see the court and knows where to put the ball. And for her first year of serving, she was very consistent when it came to our team needing points. 
“Sam is a great leader and I am thankful to have her for another year.”
Eisengruber also earned first-team All-GTW honors.
There was no coach who did more with his team than Watts, who guided the Eagles to league and district championships. It was the first NCTL title for the Eagles in volleyball since 1983. 
This year’s Caseville volleyball team became the school’s first girls sport to win both league and district championships in the same season. Also, it’s the first time the volleyball team has captured back-to-back district titles. 

The All-Tribune second team consists of Bad Axe’s Rachel Breault, Caseville’s Heather Nowak and Maureen Fortsch, Cass City’s Stephanie Leeson and Logan Rowell, Deckerville’s Jackie Guza, Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port’s Ashlyn Albrecht and Erin Albrecht, North Huron’s Sara Clancy and Hanna Selaty, Owendale-Gagetown’s Christin Harris, Port Hope’s Kayla Gust, Ubly’s Nicole Kubacki and USA’s Miranda Fuerst.

Honorable Mention
Justine Morneau, Bad Axe
Veronica Sauer, Caseville
Taylor King, Caseville
Hayley Buckey, Caseville
Caitlin Reed, Cass City
Megan Parrish, Cass City
Carley Hendrick, Cass City
Shashauna Sampson, Deck.
Kori Nunn, Deckerville
Kaleigh Spaetzel, Deckerville
Brooklyn Foy, EPBP
Erika Matteson, EPBP
Sam Hessling, Harbor Beach
Megan Bischer, H. Beach
Michelle Talaski, H. Beach
Amanda Navock, N. Huron
Ashley Case, N. Huron
Karlie Goretski, N. Huron
Mandy Muntz,  O-Gage
Kayla Montreuil, O-Gage
Lacie Prich, O-Gage
Brittany Schave, Port Hope
Kristen Kowaleski, P. Hope
Lauren Peplinski, Ubly
Alyssa Briolat, Ubly
Ashley Kubacki, Ubly
Brittany Forman, Ubly
Maddy Payton, USA
Calie Valentine, USA
Mackenzie Treiber, USA
Chelsey Ewald, USA

Rebecca Janke

Mandy Nichol

Taylor Breault

Taylor Braun

McKensie Parrish

Jessica Gracey

Samantha Eisengruber

David Watts

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shagena closes out stellar career at Alma

ALMA — Bryan Shagena started his post-high school football career protecting the quarterback at Alma College.
But when the 2007 Deckerville graduate played his final game for the Scots a few weeks ago, he was instead pursuing the opponent’s quarterback.
“I found out after my freshman year of playing offensive line that my talents would be much better suited toward playing defensive line, where my size and ability to throw a devastating punch would put me in the position to be able to make a lot of plays,” Shagena said.
“Playing defensive line in a 4-3 scheme is fairly similar in terms of technique to playing offensive line in a power running formation. The simple difference is holding at the point of attack for a split second and then getting off a block, instead of staying on a block and driving someone downfield, and then pursuing to the football.”
Shagena did plenty of pursuing this season for the Scots. Starting all 10 games, the 6-foot-2, 290 pounder recorded 20 solo tackles, including nine for loss and 2 1/2 sacks. He also had a pass breakup, a pass deflection, was selected captain for two games, and was chosen defensive player of the week after Alma’s Oct. 2 contest with Hope College.
Alma finished the season 3-7 overall.
“I was very happy with my senior season,” Shagena said. “My individual stats were even better than I hoped for coming into the season.
“My games against Hope and Olivet my senior year stand out the most for me because they were my best individual games statistically and they are both two of Alma’s biggest rivals.”
In his four years at Alma, Shagena has become a sort of student of the game, especially at his position on the defensive line.
“The biggest change for me has been mastering the overall technique that a defensive lineman is taught to carry out from the snap of the ball until the end of the play,” he explained. “There is a series of steps that a defensive lineman goes through, and the faster you can complete that process the better opportunity you will have to make not just a good play, but a great play...” 
Shagena said that he’s gone up against bigger offensive linemen, but bigger doesn’t always mean stronger. 
“Getting out of my stance low, throwing my hands out to defeat a block, and then collapsing down the line of scrimmage are all steps I go through every snap that will ensure my opportunity to be in the best position to make a football play,” he said. 
“As a sophomore, it would take probably three seconds for that whole process to take place. But through off-season training to develop better footspeed and lateral quickness, I was able to speed up that entire process by half-a-second. This allowed me to transition from making a tackle for no gain or a gain of one yard to all the tackles for loss I had this year.”
At Deckerville, Shagena earned All-State offensive line honors in 2006 and 2007. And while he had other offers, there was never a doubt where he was going to college.
“Alma offered me a small school atmosphere with big time academic credentials, which is what I wanted right from the start,” he said. “Even if I hadn’t have played college football, I still would have attended Alma because of the extremely diverse and well rounded education I received in the health sciences department. I was brought into a football environment where I could contribute right away and get the most out of my four years, which I was absolutely able to do.”
 Shagena has sound advice for any Thumb athlete who is interested in playing football in college.
“If you are interested in playing college football, it is important to let your high school coach know about it so they can go through the initial process of releasing names of players and film,” he said. “Film is the most crucial part of any player evaluation by a college coach. And if they are able to watch your film and they like what they see, then you have the opportunity of being recruited...
“There are ‘no cut policies’ in place for a lot of Division III schools, so showing up to any team function is within the rules. But just remember that if you aren’t up to the skill level with the rest of the players it will show in practice and you will probably find out sooner rather than later if you are capable of contributing...”
Shagena is grateful for the support he received from his family and friends during his time at Alma.
“I would like to thank all of my high school and college coaches for giving me the opportunity to make a lot of great football memories while developing a lot of good relationships along the way,” he said. “I would also especially like to thank my parents, my girlfriend Kelsey, and my grandparents for all their love and support throughout the last four years.”
Shagena is the son of Doug and Suzanne Shagena of Deckerville.