HAZEL PARK — Hazel Park High volleyball’s loss in a Class B district final last season is never far from the collective minds of the squad.
Coach Sue Stuef and her captains are just fine with that.
“We remember how it felt last year to be as close as we were,” Stuef said. “To win the district is definitely our goal. We remind ourselves all the time about that, about how that felt to lose that game and how it will feel like if we can win that game.”
Senior captain Stephanie Toma agreed.
“We kind of picked up where we left off of last year. We want to get redemption,” she said. “Every day at practice we remind ourselves to remember that feeling. ‘Don’t forget.’”
The Vikings’ roster is filled with players who remember the defeat against Warren Fitzgerald in the final. Hazel Park has nine seniors on the squad, seven of whom played key roles last year.
At press time, the Vikings were 7-6-1 and hadn’t played a match in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.
Stuef said the team is strong up front with solid hitting from the middle and outside. Toma and fellow senior Micah Unternahrer have the job of setting their teammates up, which Stuef said the duo has done well.
“Toma has really come up big. She’s gone above and beyond where she was last year,” Stuef said. “Not just making good sets, but she’s setting up the right people at the right time, picking matchups for our hitters and things like that, which are pretty extensive for her to be able to do.”
Unternahrer also sets and sees other parts of the court.
“She’s done an extremely nice job with that. She plays all around the court and is turning into one of my best backrow players, as well,” the coach said.
Stuef added that the team needs to improve on its consistency.
The Vikings have taken Class A teams to the edge but weren’t able to close the match at times.
“We can’t seem to keep our mental focus long enough, especially against better teams, we don’t hold on long enough,” she said. “It’s coming; I can see it coming as the season goes on.”
Hazel Park has beaten teams like Warren Regina and even Fitzgerald, which also has much of the same roster from last year’s district championship, according to Stuef.
“We’re setting up a pretty good rematch,” the coach said. “I really think we can do great things this year. I’ve been looking forward to this season since the end of last season.”
Catch the Vikings against Ferndale High at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at home.