Team Detroit club coach says Ella Loussia is ‘fearless’ under pressure
By Steve Stein
Ella Loussia laughed when she said she can be "too competitive."
"I remember when I was in fifth grade, our religion class had to find Bible verses and the winning student got a sticker," she said. "I wanted that sticker. I needed to win."
That kind of competitive drive is one reason why Loussia, now a senior at Farmington Hills Mercy High School, will be playing Division I volleyball in college.
The 6-foot-1 outside hitter signed late last year with Canisius College, a private Jesuit school in Buffalo, New York
"I'm so glad the recruiting process is over. It was stressful and draining," Loussia said.
But she's happy to be headed to Canisius. A big reason is Coach Lenika Vazquez, who has revived the Golden Griffins volleyball program in her three years in charge.
"I really like Coach Vazquez. She's such a sweetheart," Loussia said. "I feel she really cares about me as a person, and that's important. At the D-1 level, some coaches look at signing you like it's a business deal. Coach Vazquez recruited me as a person."
Speaking of business, that's what Loussia intends to study at Canisius.
"I didn't know if I wanted to leave Michigan for college," she said. "But I feel comfortable going to Canisius. I got a full-ride scholarship there, and it's only a 5 1/2-hour drive or short flight away from home. And I won't be there forever."
How about all that snow that Buffalo receives?
"It won't be a big deal," Loussia said. "You can get to places at Canisius through tunnels when the weather is bad."
Loussia has been playing club volleyball with Team Detroit since 2013, the year the club was formed.
Dave Nichols was her coach last year on a U-17 team that won two national championships in nine days.
Loussia was the most valuable player at the AAU nationals in Florida, leading her team to a perfect 14-0 record and the gold medal. The team then went 11-0 at USA Volleyball's girls junior national championships at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
"Ella is what I call a 'big point player'," Nichols said. "When the pressure's on and you need a big hit, she's fearless. I'm really excited to see her play in college."
Off the volleyball court, Nichols said, Canisius will be getting someone who is mature beyond her years.
"When you first meet Ella, she comes across as a laid-back, fun-loving person," Nichols said. "But she has a depth and intelligence that will surprise you."
That depth and intelligence manifests itself when Louissa talks about how's she's managed to maintain at 3.5 grade-point average in high school while playing volleyball year-round.
"I love hanging out with my friends, but you must have good time management and a balance in your life to keep up with your academics while you're playing sports," the 17-year-old said. "I've had to make some sacrifices because of volleyball, but that's okay because I love the sport and it has gotten me into college."
Loussia played volleyball for Mercy the last two seasons, and they were great seasons for the Marlins.
They advanced in to the Division 1 state semifinals twice, and they won two Catholic League championships. They finished 52-3 last fall.
"I enjoyed playing volleyball for my high school," she said.
Loussia found club volleyball to be more competitive than high school volleyball.
"When you're at the U17 and U18 levels in club, probably 99 percent of the girls will be playing volleyball in college," Loussia said. "On my U18 team this year, everyone but one girl has committed to a college and she'll be committing, too."
Loussia said her time with Team Detroit over the past six years was well spent.
"I wasn't that good of a player when I first tried out for Team Detroit, but they put me on a good team right away and thanks to great coaching through the years, I really progressed as a player," she said.
Her playing days for Team Detroit are over, but Loussia will continue practicing with her club teammates until she heads off to college.
Loussia's parents are David and Rahnda Loussia.
Ella is a big sister to her brothers Ashtyn, 15, and Hayden, 10, who attend Birmingham Brother Rice High School and St. Regis School in Bloomfield Hills. The family lives in West Bloomfield.
"That's a great family, a tight-knit family," Nichols said. "They have a nice perspective on life, and the parents are doing a wonderful job raising their kids. The parents have been supportive of everyone on Ella's club teams."