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Dragon netters experienced and hungry



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Senior Gwen Motley keeps her eye and her mind on the ball. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
August 24, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry

and Olivia Shumaker

Hungry and motivated.

These are the best words to describe the 2011 Dragon varsity girls volleyball team, according to Coach Bob Howey.

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There are eight seniors returning this year from a squad that won 41 matches last season, but fell short of their goal in the postseason, explained the coach, who is entering his sixth season at Lake Orion.

"The girls are willing to work and the energy level is where it needs to be at," Howey said. "They expect a lot of themselves this year." The team started on a positive note last weekend, winning their first tournament of the year in Hartland.

According to the coach, the 2011 squad is deep in talent, a byproduct of the boom in popularity of the sport in this area over the past several years. The number of quality players prompted him to carry 16 on this year's roster, Howey said.

Key returnees include senior outside hitters Shannon Murdock and Liz Kalugar and senior defensive specialist Maddie Hutchison. The three received all-region accolades last year. Other key players include senior outside hitter Taylor Hargraves, senior setter Gwen Motley and junior middle blocker Sophie Murdock.

Similar to past years, Howey expects the team to be very strong offensively. The key to the season, however, will lie with improved play defensively and its setting capabilities, he said.

"The girls have good skills and attitudes, plus they really hustle and understand the game," said Howey. "We should be fun to watch."

Lake Orion is expected to vie for the OAA Red title as well as the district crown. To reach these goals, they will have to be victorious over Clarkston, the league champ the past two years, and Birmingham Seaholm, which boosts the best player in the state, according to Howey.

League play for the Dragons begins in mid-September, against Rochester Adams.

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