BERKLEY — For new Berkley High volleyball coach Eric Gardner, each match isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about the effort that went into the outcome.
“One thing I like to see is them playing for the passion of the game, regardless of the score,” Gardner said as practice wrapped up Aug. 26. “I’m not going to give a number on wins and losses. All I want is for them to do the best that they can do. They’ve been good at that. They consistently give a great effort, and it’s been a great team to work with.”
Though Gardner is new to the position, he’s very familiar with the athletes on his roster, coaching all of them for at least one season on the JV level.
“I feel that it’s started really nice,” senior Claire Bogrow said. “All of us have had Coach Gardner for one or two years. We’re definitely coming together as a team.”
Bogrow, classmates Danielle Stachnik, Alexis Northcross, McKenna Donahue and Shannon Smith all said that team chemistry is a strength.
“So far, we all work really well together, so it’s easy to jump right into it,” Stachnik said. “We don’t have to work on becoming a team. We’re already all good together.”
Gardner said the team is ahead of where he thought it would be offensively, but defensively, it still needs to work on communication.
The coach added that he likes to see an aggressive style of play, but still strategic when it comes time to attack.
Last season, the Bears finished 8-7 overall and 6-1 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division, which put them in second place. The Bears also captured their first Class A district title since 2008 before falling to Farmington Hills Mercy in a regional semifinal.
This season, Berkley has moved to the OAA White.
“We’re playing more battle-tested teams, and we embrace that and we have a great group for that,” Gardner said. “In order to beat the better teams, you have to play (better teams). That’s one thing we are looking forward to.”
Catch the Bears against the defending White champ Rochester Hills Stoney Creek at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at home.