CADILLAC — Whenever Renee Brines would go to a tournament, she’d know who the Miss Volleyball candidates were.
The Cadillac High School senior made sure to watch those girls play and see what made them a finalist for being the best player in the state.
And they were usually from Birmingham Marian, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Grand Rapids Christian, Lakewood, North Branch, Marysville, etc., the schools that have all the best players and are always in Battle Creek at the end of the year.
For the second time, Cadillac is on that list and it’s Brines herself.
Brines, the Vikings’ setter, is one of 11 finalists for Miss Volleyball. The award, voted on by members of the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association, is usually announced in November, around the time the state tournament begins.
Brines joins former Viking Ali Finch as the only Cadillac players to be finalists for Miss Volleyball. Finch, also a setter, finished fourth in the voting in 2016.
“I knew I really wanted to be (a finalist) and as it got closer, I didn’t think I would be because there’s so many good players in the state,” Brines said. “When I found out, I was super excited.
“It gives me a confidence boost, too. I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder. A lot of people know about Miss Volleyball. I always knew who the finalists were and I’d go watch them.”
Brines got the word from her mom — and coach — Michelle Brines following the Battle Creek Lakeview tournament. Coach and player sat down for a chat and that’s when Renee got the news.
The news was supposed to come out the next day as to who the finalists were, but a downstate newspaper published the list and the proverbial cat was out of the bag.
Another coach congratulated Michelle Brines on Renee’s behalf and that led the veteran coach to show her daughter the email listing her as a finalist.
Brines, who will sign with NCAA Division II Northwood University later this fall, runs Cadillac’s offense as its setter but also is a big part of the offense, too. She leads the team with 321 kills, a number of those tips over the defense when the block is set up tight to the net.
She also has 660 assists in 99 sets played this season to go with 76 aces, 20 blocks and 322 digs.
Brines topped the 4,000 mark for assists in a career over the weekend in the Beast of the East Tournament to put her No. 11 on the state’s all-time list. No. 10 on the list is 4,010 assists.
“That’s exciting,” Brines said. “I wouldn’t get all those assists, though, without the girls getting kills around me.”
Brines set for standout outside hitter Macy Brown for three years and now runs the offense for three players who stand 6-foot or taller.
That’s not a luxury Cadillac has often had.
“It’s really nice to have the size,” Brines said. “We normally don’t play teams that are taller than us. It’s nice because it serves as an intimidation factor sometimes.
“People can get nervous seeing that height because it’s a bigger block.”
Cadillac (30-9 overall) faces a big week as the regular season winds down. The Vikings host Traverse City West on Wednesday in a match that essentially decides who wins the Big North Conference title.
West swept the Vikings in three sets earlier in the season, handing Cadillac its only conference loss. The Titans are unbeaten in league play.
“Right now, our focus is on Wednesday,” Brines said. “They did beat us kind of easily the first time, but that isn’t how we normally play.
“I am excited this time to show them that we can play better.”