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October 23, 2013

Sterling Heights High volleyball team out for a regional title

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Sterling Heights High volleyball team out for a regional title
The Sterling Heights High volleyball team is looking for the first regional title in program history. Pictured is Stallions senior setter Miranda Smith during an early season match against Grosse Pointe South.

STERLING HEIGHTS — The Sterling Heights High volleyball team has won three consecutive Michigan High School Athletic Association Class A district titles and has played in four Class A regional finals in the last 10 years, but the Stallions have yet to capture a regional title in that span.

Sterling Heights High coach Eric Wachterhauser knows winning a regional final is an accomplishment that has alluded his program, which sat at 25-12-3, 6-1 Macomb Area Conference Blue Division, at press time. Wachterhauser said reaching that goal may be tougher this year, as the Stallions could run into some tough competition in the district round against either Clinton Township Chippewa Valley or Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse.

The 2013 MHSAA state volleyball playoffs begin Nov. 4.

“(Chippewa Valley and L’Anse Creuse) are both more athletic than we are and pose matchup problems with our undersized middle (hitters and blockers) and young defensive players,” said Wachterhauser, who last led Sterling Heights to MAC Blue titles in 2009 and 2010.

“This year’s postseason run could be a short one if we can’t bring our best, or it could bring (Sterling Heights High) the first regional championship in school history. Either way, it will be an exciting ride.”

With 25 wins already, the Stallions are one of the top teams in the MAC this season.

Wachterhauser said the play of two dynamic outside hitters — junior Maddie Czopek and senior Julianna Trombley — and senior Miranda Smith, who Wachterhauser called an athletic and energetic setter, has played a big part in his team’s success.

“Each of those girls is a three-year starter,” Wachterhauser said, “and they have been able to do a lot of damage on the offensive side of the ball.”

The Stallions’ coach said his team must improve its court balance and intensity if it hopes to make a deep playoff run. Wachterhauser said some of team’s younger players are still growing, but the team must capitalize on what it does well and trust that the players will be able to hold their own come playoff time.

Before the playoffs tip off, the task of winning another MAC Blue title remains at hand. At press time, the Stallions sat one match behind Utica Eisenhower in the league standings. Eisenhower knocked off Sterling Heights 3-0 Oct. 3. The rematch is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at Sterling Heights High.

Wachterhauser said his team was off its game Oct. 3. He said how his team responded after that match could have made or broken its season.

“Our communication and commitment immediately following that game was the challenge to win out the rest of our league games to ensure a share of the division title with (Eisenhower), avenging that loss,” Wachterhauser said.

“So far, we have accomplished that goal. An advantage we have is two of our final league matches are at home, including the rematch with Eisenhower Oct. 24.”

 

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.