The Press Newspaper
In just two years at Cardinal Stritch Catholic, senior Abby Mass has made an impression.
After transferring from Tiffin Calvert in the fall of 2011, Mass has served as one of the school's best athletes, all while maintaining a 3.9 grade-point average.
A standout in both volleyball and basketball, Mass led the Cardinal volleyball team to a district championship this year and helped turn the basketball program around.
In basketball, Mass was the leading scorer for the team in each of the last two seasons. This year, she averaged 13.1 points, 4.1 assists and 2.2 steals, good enough for first-team All-Toledo Area Athletic Conference honors, second-team district honors, and was selected by area coaches and media to the Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press first team despite being from a smaller school.
Mass, who is planning on majoring in fashion design at Kent State University this fall, said “I'm pretty proud. I think that we had good leaders this year and last year and it was a good experience.”
She accomplished all this while leading the team to a 13-8 record. Last season, with nearly identical statistics, she was also recognized with first-team league honors and second-team district honors.
“I realized that when I transferred,” Mass said, “I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to be a player that everyone could count on. I had to be a scorer. I know it's important to be able to take the ball to the basket.”
Coach Terry Murnen, who has seen the team's win total increase from three to eight to 13 in his three years at the helm, said, “For one, I think Abby had a big influence. She's instilled that competitiveness within our other players. With as many young players as we had, Abby was good about working with (them). You don't often see a senior take to our freshman like she did — that says a lot about her character.”
This season, the Cardinals went 9-5 in the TAAC, good enough for second place, a vast improvement from last season when they went 8-13.
Sophomore center Cecilia “C.C.” Gozdowski, a second team All-Press selection who stands 5-7, was second on the team in scoring (10.2) and first in rebounding (10.9). Shooting guard Maggie Merren and small forward Caty Rieker were the third- and fourth-leading scorers and point guard Kali Hardy helped to round out the starting five. The rest of the rotation, which featured a total of seven players, had seniors Hannah Tucker and Olivia Latz serve as role players.
“If you would've told me going into the season starting two freshmen, a sophomore, and finish second in the league, I'd be surprised,” Murnen said. “I was very pleased. We won two non-league games that we've won for a while. That was a highlight. I felt there were some games we gave away. I felt we probably could've won three or four more games than last year. We were competitive and my kids played hard. In years past, if we had some adversity, we had a tendency to quit, and I didn't see that this year.”
Murnen is encouraged by the fact that two of his best players, Gozdowski and Merren, have a combined five years of eligibility remaining.
“I think that we have some good leaders,” he said. “C.C. Gozdowski played very well for us and Maggie Merren is already blossoming into a good player.”
While Murnen is losing three seniors, including Mass, he is optimistic that even better days are on the horizon.
“I feel the future is bright,” he said. “We have some talented young kids that stepped up for us. We had 11 freshmen in the program at the end of the season and we brought four more with us to practice with the team.”
In volleyball last fall, Mass was a two-time, first-team selection in the TAAC and led the Cardinals to their first district championship in 13 years when they defeated Ayersville in three straight games in a Division IV district final. In 2011, Stritch finished second in the TAAC and advanced to the district final before falling to Ayersville, three games to one.
Mass and her family moved to Walbridge during the summer of 2011 after having lived in Tiffin for years.
“It was tough switching schools,” said Mass. “It was a new environment and new friends. I had friends the summer I moved. I went to the open gyms and workouts and everybody welcomed me and it was nice. It helped because the school is known for having a family atmosphere.”