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Dragon volleyballers blend young and old into one of the top teams in the state



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September 11, 2013 - By Maddie Stroin

Review Special Writer

Age differences can cause major problems, but this is not the case for the Lake Orion High School varsity volleyball team.

The team of 13 players and one manager consists of girls from three different grades. There are five seniors, four juniors, and five sophomores. It is rare to see a varsity team with more sophomores than juniors. Although the range of ages could have been a weakness for this Dragon team, they transformed it into one of their strengths.

The girls are already showing their dominance on the court. According to the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association, the Lake Orion varsity team is ranked number two in the state for Class A.

They have several wins over extremely competitive teams. The Dragons have already brought down their yearly rival, Marian High School, three times this season. Marian is currently ranked fourth in Class A for the state of Michigan.

Other notable wins include the victories against Mercy (ranked sixth in Class A), Novi (ranked eighth in Class A), and Clarkston—a neighboring rival also from Class A.

The girls can already brag about two tournament victories. The Dragons were the overall champions at the Marian tournament on August 30 and the Grand Blanc tournament this past weekend. The rookies haven't held them back in the rankings.

The team chemistry hasn't taken any hits either. The girls get along just as well as they play.

"The chemistry and leadership on this team is the best I have ever seen from a LO team," Coach Ross Talbott said.

There have been numerous team dinners and sleepovers that has helped the team's chemistry. The age differences have never created any uneasiness or awkwardness.

When asked if the team felt any different this year, senior Ally Shinouskis said, "It doesn't really feel different because [the sophomores] are still part of the team. We have great chemistry."

The returning players have made sure to welcome the rookies on to the team. During a team sleepover the new players had to jump in a lake with their clothes on. Later, they were blindfolded and asked different questions.

This sleepover wouldn't seem like much fun for the younger girls, but it was an honor. This rite of passage was their official welcome onto the varsity team. This bonding off the court will only make them stronger when they play.

This team is a perfect blending of the old and the new. The seniors bring the much needed experience to the team, providing the new girls with tips and invaluable advice.

"[The upperclassmen] always tell me things to do and what I'm doing wrong. They always help me during games," sophomore Natalie Wehner said.

The best way to improve is to learn from experience. The sophomores are getting better with each game and they are learning each day from their teammates.

"The sophomores are learning every time they get on the court and they are seeing a lot of court time with the talent they have," Talbott said.

On the other hand, the underclassmen bring a great deal of enthusiasm and a love for the game. This is their first opportunity to play on a varsity court. This honor makes the new players strive for greatness.

The varsity girls embrace the range of ages on the team and hope this will be an asset to help them reach all their goals for this season.

They hope to win OAA Red for the first time in Lake Orion history. Based on their season so far, the Dragons have a good chance of achieving the greatness that they desire. On and off the court this Dragon team unites as one despite their differences. When it comes to this Lake Orion team, the difference in ages does cause major problems—for the opposing teams.

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