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Sights set on a successful year



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Clarkston Girls Varsity Volleyball team. Photo by Visual Sports Network (click for larger version)
September 05, 2012 - A few weeks into a new season and the Lady Spikers are making big hits to get them back to the state finals after finishing in the Final Four last fall.

"Finishing like that brought a lot more excitement for the season," said Clarkston Girls Varsity Volleyball Coach Kelly Avenall. "It is nice because now the girls know what it takes to get there. They have confidence they can do it. There were a lot of obstacles the last few years. We had some head issues with some of the team. Now they feel like they can play with anybody."

They are on their way as they finished first in the Marysville Tournament, second in the first Mercy Showcase and were undefeated at the Fenton and North Branch quads, putting them at 13-3-1.

The team only lost three players to graduation and have nine returners back - Courtney Blaszkowski, Sarah Bullen, Katie Chadwell, Rachel Dickerson, Brianna Frakes, Brooke Huisman, Kaley Konjarevich, Franzi Loetzner and Emily Popp.

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"Our returners are stronger," Avenall added. "They are all tremendous leaders. They are all positive. We had some good senior leadership last year and I think these girls are continuing with it. "

They have six new faces ready to help the team continue with last season's success - Melanie Aguayo, Emily Malinowski, Tessa Manilla, Kacy Robinson, Megan Sutherland and Rachel Vieira.

"They are filling some positions we needed," said Avenall. "Kacy will be one of our starting middles. We have two sophomores - Vieira and Malinowski."

The Lady Wolves have mini goals for the season and one of them is claiming the OAA Red title for the sixth consecutive season.

"When you win that many in a row everyone wants a piece of you," Avenall said. "We just have to take it one league match at a time and try not to look ahead."

She added strong opponents in the league are Lake Orion, North Farmington and Troy.

The girls head to the Grand Blanc Classic this Saturday, 8:30 a.m. and host their first match next Thursday against Seaholm. JV begins at 5:30 p.m., varsity follows.

"You can expect some entertaining volleyball," said Avenall. "You can expect some very passionate kids who love to play. "

We have Lake Orion our last match at home and it will be our senior night.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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