Seaholm’s varsity volleyball team was supposed to be in a rebuilding year.
Tell that to head coach Heather Lippert.
When asked what the expectations were for this year, Lippert’s response was simple.
“Win the conference, and win districts,” Lippert said.
It won’t be easy though, as the Maples have lost key players, including Sara Olivova and Paige Neuenfeldt, who are both playing volleyball at the collegiate level.
Senior Erin Neuenfeldt is a returning starter and will captain the Maples, along with seniors Andrea Gothard and Kathy Quigley. The Maples other key players include seniors Lisa White, Claire Meads, Hailey Willett, and sophomores Madeline Varlese and Paige Zywick.
The Maples began their season in late August at the Dakota Tournament. The Maples suffered four losses to Dakota, Romeo, Lake Orion, and Troy.
Despite the losses, it was a good experience for the Maples.
“It was tough because we are a younger team,” Lippert said. “We played a lot of veteran teams.”
Although the team didn’t get off to an ideal start, they bounced back with an impressive win against Groves, three games to none.
“Beating Groves was easier being the first home game,” senior Claire Meads said. “Everyone’s energy was up and everyone stepped in to help as a group.”
Playing as a group will be key this year for the Maples.
“We need to play as a team and as one unit,” Lippert said. “We don’t have dominant players, but as the season progresses, we’ll be a very competitive team.”
Lippert acknowledged that the team lost a lot of talent last year but explained how the captains are natural leaders and good role models.
Neuenfeldt, Quigley, and Gothard, a Central Michigan University commit, are the top players for the Maples, as well as four year varsity players, but the senior depth, along with talented underclassmen will help the Maples in the long run.
One of the bright spots this year has been senior Lisa White, who took a break from volleyball last year but is back and ready to help the team.
“Lisa has done an amazing job this year, she is a great player,” Lippert said.
“I came back for my senior year because I really missed playing volleyball last year and I have some really good friends on the team that encouraged me to play again,” White said. “I’m definitely really happy I decided to come back, I’m having so much fun.”
Feeding off the win from the Groves game, The Maples continued their streak in the Lake Orion Tournament.
“The tournament was very exciting because we won the silver bracket,” Meads said.
The Maples suffered losses from top teams Oxford and Marian, but posted impressive wins against Lutheran High School North, Armada High School, and won the bracket against Stoney Creek.
“People have really doubted us this year,” White said. “We have been working hard to prove ourselves this year.”
The Maples will look to continue their run when they play at Rochester Adams, September 27th.