Southfield Christian’s run to volleyball quarterfinals was historic

By: Mike Moore | Southfield Sun | Published November 21, 2017

 Southfield Christian’s Grace McFerrin blocks a shot during a match earlier this year. The Eagles capped the season in the quarterfinals, reaching that stage in the postseason for the first time in program history.

Southfield Christian’s Grace McFerrin blocks a shot during a match earlier this year. The Eagles capped the season in the quarterfinals, reaching that stage in the postseason for the first time in program history.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

SOUTHFIELD — This was uncharted territory, and whenever that is the case for a program in the state playoffs, every step becomes a new piece of history.

In this case, the Southfield Christian volleyball team will certainly cherish the history made in 2017.

“I knew right away this was a team that could do something,” coach Mike Van Dyke said. “I thought we could make a run in the season, and then try and do the same in the district and the regional.”

That was all a bit prophetic for Van Dyke as he guided the Eagles to the quarterfinals in Class D, capturing the program its first regional title ever.

“This was a team that just kept finding ways to win,” Van Dyke boasted. 

The season finally came to a close Nov. 14 when the Eagles fell to Fowler High in a 3-0 quarterfinal setback.

“That was a very good team,” Van Dyke said of Fowler. “They came out and just outplayed us. They attacked more than we were able to, and eventually played for a state title. It was a very good team.”

The Fowler loss signaled the end of a great season for the Eagles.

The team closed the fall with a 28-8-2 record, the first regional title ever, two tournament titles and a whole lot to build on for the future.

So while Van Dyke knew his squad had the potential for something special, when asked just why it all played out the way it did, he laughed.

“That’s a great question,” he said while digging for an answer. “Like I said, we have some younger girls who weren’t all that experienced, but we found ways to win. I think a lot of it is a credit to some of our key leaders. They did a lot to keep this thing going.”

Co-captains Kaelin Ray and Emily VanDyke were the two in front, while Mike Van Dyke also mentioned Grace McFerrin, among others, who kept the team moving in the right direction all season long.

“We just kept playing solid as the year went on, and we played well against some of the harder teams on the schedule,” the coach said. “The girls saw their potential, and the more we won, the more their confidence grew.”

And that carried into the playoffs, all the way to the history-making regional title, a 3-1 win over Sterling Heights Parkway Christian.

“You’re excited to win districts, but then when you get that match point to win the regional, it really was an emotional high,” Van Dyke said.

Now the challenge is keeping it going into 2018.

“The goal is always to get better than the previous year,” the coach continued. “They’ve seen the effort it takes to win. They know what it’s like now, and we have to build on that.”

Call Sports Writer Mike Moore at (586) 498-1062. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.