Tower volleyball coach looks back on banner year

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Warren Weekly | Published December 8, 2017

 Warren Woods Tower junior Hayley Cicola bumps the ball in a regular-season match while coach Aaron Nitz looks on. The Titans won their first-ever Class A district championship this season.

Warren Woods Tower junior Hayley Cicola bumps the ball in a regular-season match while coach Aaron Nitz looks on. The Titans won their first-ever Class A district championship this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

WARREN — It was a season to remember for the 2017 edition of the Warren Woods Tower volleyball team — and that includes coach Aaron Nitz.

The Titans went 35-6-1 and went 10-0 to claim the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division championship, giving the program its first league title since winning the MAC Silver in 2011. Tower knocked off Warren Mott 3-0 Nov. 3 to claim a Class A district championship — the first for the program, which reclassified to Class A in the early 2000s.

“A few factors played a role in our success,” Nitz said. “This team has a shared history due to the fact that many of the girls have been playing together for four or five years. We had high expectations for ourselves and saw this season as the culmination of our previous work. The team was united, as we established a team-first mentality.”

The season ended in a 3-1 loss to Sterling Heights Stevenson in a Nov. 7 regional semifinal.

“We played strong. We lost to a team two divisions above us in the MAC,” Nitz said. “The scoreboard doesn’t define my players. They define themselves.”

Senior leadership, Nitz said, was a major factor in the team’s run. Co-captain Samantha Blalock earned MAC Gold MVP honors and led the team in blocks and kills. Co-captain Kiley Nitz led the team with her play and vocally. Senior Taylor Diamond led the team in digs.

The Titans will lose those key players, but the coach hopes to build on the success of this season. Nitz said future success will depend primarily on underclassmen developing into leaders.

“And will the culture of hard work, respect and high expectations that we established this year pass through year to year,” Nitz said.

Next year’s team will be led by three third-year varsity players: Mackenzie Nitz, Gabrielle Erison and Sara Chapman. Those three have played important roles so far, but will be asked to do much more.

“Our success will ride largely on their shoulders, and their leadership and ability to be impact players on the court,” the coach said.

Nitz is thinking long term for the program and wants it to sustain the success it had this season for years to come. That, Nitz said, means young players will have to understand the tradition being built and add to it.

“Through camps, youth leagues and investment in our programs at (the middle school level), we’re looking for the next group of Titans to step up,” Nitz said.