Runner-up last season, Novi looks to capture school's first volleyball state title

Volleyball   | Jeff Dullack

Runner-up last season, Novi looks to capture school's first volleyball state title

Novi – A season ago, Novi saw its season end in heartbreaking fashion as the Wildcats lost in the Class A final in five games to Romeo.

But that experience has only added fuel to the fire.

The Wildcats have spent the majority of this season ranked No. 1 and, this week, are looking to claim a second consecutive regional title.

Novi coach Jennifer Cottrill said that her team’s trip to Battle Creek where the Wildcats fought off slow starts, falling behind 2-0 against Grand Haven in the semifinals as well as Romeo in the final, has helped her prepare the team for this season’s tournament.

“What we learned is that it’s a journey,” she said. “You have to break it down and you have to focus on each opponent individually and in retrospect, it’s all new, everybody’s 0-0, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, you have to battle. You’re going to be up, down, around and no matter what, you’re just battling.

“So yeah, it was heartbreaking at the end. But to get to that point, because we were down 2-0 in both the semifinals and the finals, just shows that you have to battle and how bad you want it and how hard you want to work for your teammates too.”

Novi is led by senior Miss Volleyball finalist Victoria Iacobelli, her twin sister Paulina, as well as junior Ally Cummings and sophomore Erin O’Leary.

Victoria Iacobelli said last year’s run has set the Wildcats up for another successful run this year.

“We know exactly what it takes to go far,” she said. “We know how exciting it is and that we can’t take one game off and so just coming from last year, we know what we have to do.”

O’Leary re-emphasized what her teammate said.

“It’s made us a better team,” O’Leary said. “It’s given us experience and it’s made us stronger.”

As expected, Novi entered this season as one of the top teams and one of the favorites to win the Class A title.

So far, Novi hasn’t disappointed.

Novi (46-2) will host Farmington Hills Mercy in Thursday’s regional final. One of Novi’s losses was to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, the No. 1 team in