October 02, 2013 - With a current record of 14-9-3, Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Kristi McDevitt said the team is "progressing as they should be right now and getting better everyday."
Front row (left to right): Mgr. Emily Sefcheck, Julia Walker, Taylor Leppek, Taylor Taraski, Kennedy Orr, Courtney Kessler and Mgr. Emilee Knop. Back row: Asst. Coach Marissa Manzella, Jordan Romine, Darien Bandel, Maddie Maier, Marie Matheis, Regan Precour, Lisa Savich, Claire Seely and Head Coach Kristi McDevitt. (click for larger version)
"The goal is to put into play what is learned in practice and so far so good," McDevitt said. "I think we will be in the top half of the league and looking to steal some games from Lake Orion and Clarkston."
While it has felt like forever for this season to get started, the girls are finally heading into league matches this week.
"The girls are really excited that we have a lot of home matches to play in front of our home crowd," added McDevitt. "They always enjoy tournaments and we have drastically improved our tournament play by advancing to the gold brackets of the last two tournaments we have played."
"The league is always tough. We are in the OAA Red for the third year and looking to grab a one through third place spot," she continued. "We have shown we can go head to head with the big teams and we host both Clarkston (Oct.24) and Lake Orion (Oct. 17) this year and will be looking for a huge home crowd to give us momentum to upset both teams."
"Great all around player" Darien Bandel returned this year as left side hitter.
"She is fierce and other teams know it," noted McDevitt.
Kennedy Orr and Maddie Maier are the returning setters.
"Both improved their confidence and technique from last year," McDevitt said. "They have commanded their offense and anchored our defense on the right side."
Also returning left side hitter is Julia Walker, who McDevitt describes as a "leader on the court and is very capable of taking over games."
"Julia is also a great hitter and even better defender," she added.
Returning middle blocker is Taylor Taraski.
"T.T. is the work horse in the front row flying all over to block," McDevitt said. "She is very athletic and agile along the net."
Taylor Leppek fills the gap as right side hitter. "An increase in confidence and ability in her position on the right side is evident," noted McDevitt.
Seniors Bandel, Maier, Walker, and Taraski are vital to the team's success and leadership, according to McDevitt.
"We love our seniors. Bandel sets the bar for performance, Maier's leadership abilities have improved tremendously, Walker rallies the underclassmen with her can-do attitude and Taraski motivates her team by organizing team conditioning," she said. "Each senior has their role and they play them very well both on the court and off the court."
The rest of the team fills in with eight new girls to the varsity squad.
McDevitt said Sophmore Lisa Savich is "much improved from the club season."
"She is athletic and quick," she said. "She struggled with the speed of the game at first, but has caught on and is really coming along in her development."
Meanwhile, Junior Regan Precour is a "jack of all trades."
"This season she is one of the liberos on team and she owns the position when she is on the court," noted McDevitt. "She is very competitive."
Junior Claire Seely is the "quiet assassin."
"She is super quiet in her demeanor, but when you get her on the court she is a fierce competitor," McDevitt said.
Jordan Romine is another junior who has a quiet demeanor, but a "killer swing."
"Jordan has stepped up in some tight games and she isn't afraid of pressure," added McDevitt.
Sophomore Grace Wysocki has brought a "huge surprise this year as to how much she has contributed thus far."
"We moved her to middle and she made the adjustments and has secured a starting position due to her blocking and hitting," McDevitt said.
According to McDevitt, freshman Nicole Elzerman "has the makings of being a superstar."
"She has to get over her freshman nerves and confidence, but she has made huge strides the last few weeks of practice in proving why she is on varsity," she said.
Finally, junior Courtney Kessler rounds out the team as a "setter with a beautiful touch."
"She has adjusted well to the speed of the game and runs the offense like a quarterback," McDevitt said. "Her defense is phenomenal."
Speaking of defense, that is what the Lady Wildcats are known for on the court, said McDevitt. "We practice it every day and pride ourselves in giving the opponent fits," she added.
Another vital part of the team, McDevitt noted, are Team Managers Emily Sefcheck and Emilee Knop. "They handle all practice set up and scoring of drills and they manage all of the teams stats," she said. "I would be so overloaded with work without them."
Overall goal of the season said McDevitt is "to go head-to-head with the good teams and easily handle the teams we should be beating."
"Every day our goal is to step on the court and push each other to do the best we can," she added.
The girls take the court again against Oct. 3 at Bloomfield Hills, starting at 7 p.m. Their next home match will be against Troy on Thurs. Oct. 10.
Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.