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September 5, 2012

Berkley High volleyball ready to set the pace

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Berkley High senior captains, from left, Madelyn Oliver, Lisa Wassenberg and Blair Birnie are three of the four returning players.

Berkley High volleyball coach Liz Primeau wants her team to impose its will on opponents.

“I always want my team tough. I want them to give it their all. I don’t want that ‘I’m scared’ mentality,” she said during practice Aug. 28. “I always tell the team that the other team isn’t scared to put the ball in their face, so put it back in theirs. They’re not going to hold back; they’re going to pound the ball. So pound it back.”

Primeau is seeing signs that the tenacity does exist, and it showed in spots during a tournament Aug. 25 at Walled Lake Central.

The Bears lost each of their matches against the larger schools, but the coach liked what she saw.

“We really held our own. I’m not disappointed at all. For the first tournament of the year, we did well. We played awesome, basically,” she said.

Seniors Madelyn Oliver, Lisa Wassenberg and Blair Birnie, and junior Danielle Stachnik are the only returning starters, but Oliver said the team has already grown close.

“Even though we don’t have a lot of experience playing together, we all love being around each other, and I think that’ll help us during the season,” she said.

Primeau added that she likes the make up of the team, with three seniors, six juniors and three sophomores, and she has more depth than she has had in the past.

“I think it’s a really good mix of different age levels. This year, we have some all-around-type players, too. We can swap people out and give them chances to play different spots. It’s kind of nice that way,” she said.

The Bears finished third in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division last season. In order to improve on that, Primeau said, the key is communication on the court.

“The ball can not drop to the ground,” she said, adding that even the most talented teams that don’t communicate will struggle to win matches.

Oliver feels that with the team meshing and a play-tough attitude, the Bears have a chance to accomplish their goals of winning the division and a district crown.

“Everyone is being really aggressive, and I think as the season goes on, we’ll get even stronger,” she said.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.