Source: Sherman Publications

Dragon volleyballers have large shoes to fill

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

August 22, 2012

The 2011 Lake Orion High School sports season ended with an exciting run from the varsity Volleyball team.

Coach Bob Howey, along with his team, took their run all the way to the final match against Rockford, where after a bitter loss the Dragons came home with their runner-up award.

This year, Coach Howey decided to retire, opening the way up for JV Coach Ross Talbot to try his hand at winning the state championship. According to him, this is a strong possibility.

“We’ve got some big shoes to fill, we lost eight seniors and three all state players from last year,” said Talbot. “But our JV team went 38-1 last year so we shouldn’t miss a beat. We’re young, but were looking good. If we’re passing the ball and playing defense like we can, there won’t be a team that can beat us.”

Returning players from the 2011 season include the 6’3” senior middle hitter Sofie Murdock, senior right hitter Melanie Heath, and senior Gabby Kalugar who will be taking over for graduate Maddie Hutchison. Senior Rachel Livingway will be joining the ranks as well along with senior Rebecca Sylvain as setter. Finally, Talbot mentioned senior Tess Marshall as left hitter along with senior middle hitter Emilie Kipp.

“All out girls played at a national and regional level at Oakland Elite Volleyball or Legacy (club teams) and when they do that in the off season they’re traveling to places like Kentucky and Orlando playing against some of the best teams in the country,” said Talbot. “Our girls are playing 11 months out of the year. We have a winning tradition in Lake Orion and we have a lot of community behind you when you play here.”

In total, the team is composed of eight seniors, seven juniors and two sophomores.

But the team has it’s challenges the same as any and according to Talbot the main concern this year is putting the team and the talent together to make it work on the court. Putting new players with a new coach can sometimes be jarring and an acclimation period is necessary. Lake Orion returned from an opening tournament last weekend against rivals Marion and Mercy.

Orion lost to Marion, but Talbot believes the team is beatable.

“Marion will always be good because they’re a private school and they have a lot of kids playing club too, but they seem short this year,” he said. “Mercy just beat them in the finals, so their good as well. Clarkston, as always, will be a good rival and Troy just moved up to our league again and has a new coach.

“It’s a week to week thing we worry about. If we’re passing the ball and playing defense like we can it won’t matter. If we get beat, so be it but as long as we do things well on our side of the court it shouldn’t happen.”

The girls next play at a quad meet on Tuesday at Lake Orion, on Aug. 22 at Mercy and again on Aug. 23 at Grand Blanc.