A stunned Lisa White (8), Birmingham Seaholm, walks off the court as Macomb Dakota celebrates in the background following Class A quarterfinal volleyball action at Oxford High School Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
VOLLEYBALL: Seaholm's magical run ends following sweep by Dakota
Erin Neuenfeldt, (3), Birmingham Seaholm, goes up to block a kill attempt by Macomb Dakota's Kaley Willaert (8) during Class A quarterfinal volleyball action at Oxford High School Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Paige Zywick, Birmingham Seaholm, makes a set during Class A quarterfinal volleyball action against Macomb Dakota at Oxford High School Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
Andrea Gothard, Birmingham Seaholm, makes a dig during Class A quarterfinal volleyball action against Macomb Dakota at Oxford High School Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012. (Special to The Oakland Press / LARRY McKEE)
OXFORD — Every year, volleyball teams across the state set out with aspirations to play for a state championship.
Although there’s only a select few that will actually have a chance to go that deep into the postseason, Oakland County has seen a solid number of schools make it to Battle Creek over the past couple of years.
It seemed as though Birmingham Seaholm was this year’s team of destiny. No one had been able to touch the Maples to this point in the playoffs, and wins against Birmingham Marian, Troy, and Clarkston had Seaholm just one match away from earning a spot in the Class A final four.
Unfortunately for the Maples, junior standout Carli Snyder and Macomb Dakota stood in their way.
Behind an impressive night on offense from Snyder, the No. 3 ranked Cougars ended Seaholm’s dream season by way of a sweep, 25-14, 25-18, 25-22.
“It’s been a great run,” Seaholm coach Heather Lippert said. “These girls have nothing to be ashamed of or sad about. We came into this game riding pretty high, but it just wasn’t there tonight.”
The Maples knew they had an uphill battle on their hands, facing one of the state’s toughest hitters. Snyder led her team with a game-high 19 kills.
“We made a lot of mistakes tonight,” Lippert said. “I thought we got down early, and we could never really sustain a run big enough to make a comeback.”
Dakota advanced to meet Northville in a Class A semifinal in Battle Creek on Friday.
“Our year was ended in the quarterfinals last season, and our girls made it a goal to get past that point and make it to Battle Creek,” Dakota head coach Tracie Ferguson said. “We knew that Seaholm was scrappy and that they were going to keep whatever ball they could alive. I think our offense, though, really came through and put away a lot of balls, tonight.”
Seaholm, who had been playing near-flawless volleyball for the last couple of weeks, appeared to get rattled early and could not recover from a slow start.
In all of the Maples’ postseason matches, they jumped ahead and took the first two games, but on Tuesday night, Dakota took the first game and seemingly took away Seaholm’s confidence.
“We didn’t play well,” Lippert said. “Dakota played great, and we couldn’t really handle what they were throwing at us.”
After dropping the first game, it was more of the same in the second. Macomb Dakota was unrelenting on offense. The Cougars continued to feed Snyder, who just might have been the strongest hitter that the Maples had seen all year long.
“She’s amazing,” Lippert said of Snyder. “I don’t think she made a single error out there, and it seemed like any ball that they threw up to her, she got in.”
The Maples battled hard into the third game, but there just wasn’t any postseason magic left in the tank. This season won’t soon be forgotten by the Seaholm community. The team captured the school’s first district title since 2000 and was one match away from earning a spot in the final four. Lippert will graduate six seniors this year.
“Everything has been so great about this year,” Lippert said. “The student body and all of the staff and faculty have been awesome. This season is tough to put into words. These kids have played with all of their heart, and it’s tough to lose today.”