To say that Kayla Bridge and Mariah Tesarz have been prototypical captains for Plymouth's volleyball team this season may be an understatement.
In addition to providing the Wildcats with exemplary on-the-court skills -- Tesarz serves as the team's libero, a position that requires floor-sweeping defensive efforts, while Bridge is a never-leaves-the-court standout -- the pair have offered coach Kelly McCausland with an abundance of leadership that can't be measured on a stat sheet.
"They're both extensions of myself," said McCausland, following a recent late-season practice. "I can always depend on them to do the right thing, on the court and off. It's gotten to the point where I can give them a look when they're on the court, and they know what I'm thinking.
"I love them both to death. They totally inspire this team. They know how to pick everybody up emotionally. They're so upbeat, they bring joy to our lives."
After facing off against one another at the middle-school level -- Tesarz played for East, Bridge for West -- the pair of sensational spikers didn't share a court together at Plymouth until their junior season.
Tesarz made a sudden impact as a defensive wizard, throwing her body around to snuff out opponents' would-be kills while Bridge excelled early on as an outside hitter before evolving into an all-around star.
"Mariah is an exceptional libero," said McCausland. "She knows how to read the other teams' hitters and how to get in position to stop the other teams' offense.
"Kayla didn't play defense at all her first year on the varsity, but she's always been an offensive threat. Last year was the first year she started playing defense and now she's second on the team to Mariah in digs."
The Wildcats have enjoyed a solid 19-win season heading into tonight's district semifinal match against state-ranked Novi, which they hung tough with at last week's Kensington Conference tournament before falling.
"At the beginning of the season, we had a lot of individual skills, but we weren't putting it all together," said Bridge. "Toward the end of the season, we've really bonded and we're working better as a team."
The two girls didn't hesitate when asked for the season's highlight, so far at least.
"Beating Canton (in the Kim Renzi Memorial Invitational) was huge because it was the first time Plymouth had beaten Canton in seven years," said Tesarz.
Humble as they are talented, both Bridge and Tesarz prefer to talk about team-related accomplishments as opposed to their own shining skills.
"My favorite part of playing high school volleyball," Tesarz said, "is when we get a big point and we come together, united, on the court and jump as one. That's the best moment for me."
"And it's such a great feeling when we win the third game of a match, because all the hard work we've been putting into this is rewarded," Bridge said.
Following are a few of the Plymouth captains' favorite things...
SPORT BESIDES VOLLEYBALL
Tesarz - Tennis (she plays for Plymouth in the spring)
Bridge - "I like watching gymnastics on TV."
Tesarz - AP Biology
Bridge - AP Biology
Tesarz - She's The Man
Bridge - Grease
Tesarz - "I like pasta, fruits and veggies."
Bridge - "Anything Italian."
Tesarz - "I like the Disney Channel and Lifetime."
Bridge - "I like cake-making shows on the Food Network."
Mariah passes the ball during the Wildcats' Senior Night match against Canton. (Ed Wright photo)