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Volleyball: 2013 Downriver League season preview (PHOTO)
Stephanie Meseah and the Allen Park Jaguars had a great season in 2012 and they hope for a repeat in 2013.
In 2012 Hailey Richardson and the Huron High Chiefs had their best season in school history.
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The Warriors finished with a 31-8 record (11-3 DRL) and finished second at the annual News-Herald tournament.
Last year the team graduated seven seniors including both of its outside hitters, the liberos and both setters, but return several key players as well as a few new faces this year.
Seniors Nicole Robinson (middle), Leah Pletcher (libero), Keri Kilgore (setter), Erin Marvaso (libero) and sophomore Hailey Leidel (opposite) are key returners expected to contribute this season.
New faces to the team include juniors Julia Vitale (libero), Cheyenne Lacinski (middle), Kayle Pollick (opposite/setter), Hannah Woolford (outside/opposite) and Rachael Theisen (libero) and sophomores Connor Camplin (setter), Chelsea McLenon (outside) and Christina Cobetto (libero).
Third-year varsity Coach Dennis Yack is looking forward to getting the season going.
“We are fairly young, but the majority of our players have experience at both the high school level and club ball level,” he said. “We will be competitive and put pressure on our opponents.
“My players are hungry and excited to get the season going.”
The Warriors open tournament play on Aug. 24 at Taylor Kennedy.
The Allen Park volleyball team lost two key contributors last year after it finished tied for first in the Downriver League, but four-year Coach Chad Bodman expects his team will stay near the top of the league this year.
The Jags’ schedule is tougher this year with some of the stronger teams popping up right away, but Bodman says his roster has great potential.
The team is led by four seniors.
Veronica Lenard will move from the DS role in the middle back to the libero spot, playing left back, while Abby Dawson will start out as the number two outside hitter.
Bodman says Dawson has improved over the summer in both hitting and her defensive play.
Stephanie Meseah will play middle and is expected to fill a void left by graduation last year. Meseah prepared herself for the demanding job by playing club ball over the spring.
Karlee Cox returns to contribute as a defensive specialist and has been working hard to improve her anticipation and speed and is expected to be a solid contributor.
Junior Alyssa LaFace has just accepted a verbal commitment to play with Eastern Michigan University after graduation and returns this year to play outside hitter and defensive specialist.
Junior Felicia Bozman returns as setter and is expected to push the team for a more dynamic offense, while contributing with improved defensive play. Miranda Hebert, also a junior, returns to right side hitter. She has been working hard to improve her vertical in order to be a better defender against opponents.
Rounding out the team are three first-year sophomores.
Alyssa Lang will have the dual role of defensive specialist and outside hitter and Erin Fish will contribute as the second middle hitter.
“She (Fish) is a very athletic player and we are excited for the possibilities as she develops her strengths as a middle blocker and hitter,” Bodman said.
Natalie Schlesinger will be used for multiple roles as a utility player, hitting on both the right and outside.
Bodman believes Roosevelt, Anderson and Trenton will prove to be threats this season, but believes his team can keep up.
With the memory of a district championship still fresh in their minds, the Marauders are back on the court and ready to go.
Coach Patrick Rice is entering his 14th season with the team and is looking ahead to a strong season.
“The team has been working hard in practice and is focused themselves and changing the approach to the game,” he said. “The group has added emphasis on defense and hustle while working together as a team.”
Last year, the team finished with an overall 11-26-4 record and was fifth in the Downriver League.
Although Carlson lost several key players in the form of Rebecca Browning (215 kills), Chelsea Holbrook (216 kills), Jade Shanks (458 digs) and Nora Sullivan (58 blocks), several experienced veterans return to the court.
Both setters Sarah Ettore and Alexa Vasiliauskas return, along with Kayla Loving, Bathany Barton and Selena Mendez in the back row.
Gina Bodinus (middle) and Jessica Bilot (outside hitter) will also return.
Rice says despite the team’s lack of size, they hope to improve upon last season and be as competitive as possible.
“I like the development of a new attitude for this squad,” Rice said. “(They are) focusing on never giving up and working hard towards a common goal.”
The Marauders opened the season by hosting their own tournament Friday.
Last season Melvindale made it to the final round of districts before bowing out against Divine Child.
The Cardinals are back on the court with new coach Kari Ennis who comes with seven years of coaching experience and expectations of a good season after the district run last year.
“It gives us something to push towards this year and improve upon,” Ennis said.
Last year, the Cards lost two-year starting libero Alyssia Adkins and now look to fill the void.
Ennis has her mind set on Savannah Hoak, back for her third and final year with the varsity team.
“I’ve watched her develop into an all around player and expect to see her rise as one of the leaders on the team this year,” Ennis said.
Tournaments are right around the corner and Melvindale will travel to Taylor Saturday for their first one.
“I am really looking forward to what these girls are going to bring to the table,” Ennis said. “They are a group of girls with a lot of heart for the game and as long as they continue to work hard, we are going to have a great season in front of us.”
The following weekend, the team will be at Allen Park high school for a tri-meet with Allen Park and Inter-City Baptist.
A senior-heavy Titan team will be looking to improve after last year’s 7-6 Downriver League record this year.
With 8 seniors, Coach Josh Short is looking to that leadership to guide the team through the season.
“It’s been really good,” Short said about the senior leadership. “They’ve been really good in the summer workout with the younger kids.
“I’m actually surprised how good they are and how well it’s going.”
Short is the Titans’ third coach in three years and says he will take things slow this year as the team adjusts.
“I’m going one day at a time right now,” he said. “We’re going slow and going through everything and getting them used to my system and making sure they’re comfortable.”
Conditioning was consistent all summer and Short believes it will help his team stay in the run to the top of the competitive league.
“I am really excited to see what this year holds for our team,” Short said. “If everything comes together, I’m just excited to see how it goes.”
Anderson opened its season with tournament play over the weekend.
Second-year Coach Alisha Kovalchik returns with her Bears this year after a third-place finish in the Downriver League last season.
Roosevelt finished last year with 10 wins and 3 losses in league play and a 24-17-2 record overall. Its season ended with a loss to Riverview in the first round of districts.
The team graduated five seniors and now looks to a new class of five seniors in the form of Tara Poikey, Ciara Woods, Mallory Bentley, Sydni Pauley and Nicole Ostrowtiz.
Juniors Allison Peterson, Regan Kusibab, Alicia Hannah and sophomores Alyssa Stringa, Alea Kainz, Selene Pauley and Amanda Ynclan round out the roster.
Overall, Kovalchik and her team are looking forward to an exciting season.
Rebuilding and learning is what the Trenton volleyball team will be focusing on as this fall season gets underway.
The Trojans lost four starters to graduation last year and return to the gym with a young but athletic team.
Only four girls are returning varsity players, and Coach Lynn Oakley is looking to the leadership of captains Karly Ford, Alexis Girvan and Aevah Hebda.
The entire team is comprised of just three seniors, five juniors, one sophomore and three freshen but Oakley said she is optimistic about the season.
“They are all hard working, have good attitudes and willing to learn,” she said. “The team will be fun to watch grow this season.”
Fresh off an opportunity to attend the Sports Performance Volleyball Camp, the Lincoln Park volleyball team is back in their gym, ready for the season.
Third year coach Megan Smith says the camp helped get her team off on the right foot as they head into this year.
This year the team consists of 15 girls after losing seven seniors from last season.
Offensively, Smith expects the seniors to step up, especially Kennedy Bradley-Stevens, Gayle Springer and Leigh Branny.
Alexis Moore will set this year and defensively Emelina Torres, Dana Whyte and Madison Zocher will lead the way.
Last Updated: 8/23/2013 2:27:15 PM EST