BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — Bridget Bussell led St. Francis to the Class C state volleyball finals earlier this month.
Now, the senior's been recognized for her efforts.
Bussell was selected to the Class C All-State team, along with Boyne City's Kylie Hicks. The team was picked by the coaches association.
Leland's Brooke Olesnavage, a key player in the Comets run to the quarterfinals, was chosen to the Class D first team.
Bussell was instrumental in the Gladiators first trip to the Final Four.
"She was an impact player," St. Francis co-coach Heather Simpson said. "She could take over a game."
Bussell had her junior season cut short when she broke her foot. She rebounded with a big senior season, especially down the stretch.
"She hit her stride toward the end of the season," Simpson said. "As the games got bigger, she stepped up her level of play."
Bussell finished with 580 kills, 331 digs, 118 aces and 68 blocks for the 42-8-3 Gladiators.
Hicks sparked Boyne City to a district title before the Ramblers were ousted by St. Francis in the regional.
One of three underclassmen on the 10-player first team, the athletic Hicks finished with 468 kills, 467 digs and 139 blocks for the 33-14-5 Ramblers.
Olesnavage spent three years at Grand Traverse Academy before transferring to Leland.
"Brooke came to our program with a lot of raw, natural talent — and some pretty good volleyball skills," Comets coach Laurie Glass said. "What she didn't have was a lot of volleyball knowledge. She worked hard to learn the game and be a student of the game."
Olesnavage missed three weeks of the season with illness, but still finished with 532 kills, 276 digs and 152 aces.
"She was a dominating presence on the court," Glass said. "People had to know where she was at all times and be aware of her from both the front row and the serving line. She was a pretty powerful player."
Glass said her favorite moments of the season came watching Olesnavage celebrate district and regional titles — a common occurrence at Leland, but a first for the senior.
"She was genuinely excited," Glass said. "That excitement and joy reminds you that there's a passion and love for the game and we should be excited about winning districts and regionals."
Olesnavage's teammate, Maggie Osorio, was named to the second team. Onaway's Emily Estep made the third team. Honorable mention went to Leland's Caitlin McKee and Andrea Hunt, Forest Area's Tabitha Cecil and Emily Gonyer, Central Lake's Lauren Rogers and Onaway's Mariah Ehrke and Megan Estep.
Bussell's teammate, Kaitlyn Hegewald, was a second-team pick in Class C. Charlevoix's Madeline Boss and Boyne City's Heather Nichols were on the third team. McBain's Meredith Hamlet was honorable mention.
In Class A, Petoskey's Megan Tompkins was selected to the second team and Traverse City West's Katie Placek to the third team.
In Class B, Cadillac's Katlyn Agren was chosen to the second team. Kingsley's Katie Travis and Cadillac's Selena Golnick were honorable mention.