It was a playoff run filled with redemption and new promise for the Birmingham Seaholm volleyball program.
The Maples finished their season after losing to Macomb Dakota 25-14, 25-18 and 25-22 Nov. 13 at Oxford High in a Class A quarterfinal.
“As sad as it is that it’s over, I think just the run has been so special,” Maples coach Heather Lippert said. “We can all be so happy and proud of the way our kids played. It’s sad we won’t be able to spend time together, but looking back, they did amazing. To beat Marian, then Troy and Clarkston, that was huge.”
Seaholm beat Marian for its first district title since 2000. The Mustangs had routinely been the squad to end the Maples’ season in recent years. Even this season, Seaholm had lost to Marian twice.
“Winning the district championship, I thought was really a turning point for our program, because it’s where our seniors’ seasons ended every year,” Lippert said. “That was a huge thing. Younger girls know what it feels like to make it that far and can strive for that.”
Feeling a new sense of confidence from their district title, Seaholm then won its first regional in over a decade, beating Troy High and Clarkston High, both in three-game sweeps.
During the regular season, Seaholm beat Troy in five games and lost to Clarkston three times.
Against Dakota, Lippert credited the Cougars for playing very well and added that her team just wasn’t at the top of its game.
“I don’t know if it was the amount of time from the last time we played (five days) or we just psyched ourselves out a little bit. Dakota played really well and has had a great season,” she said. “They ran away with the first 10 points, and we just couldn’t get a run going. It was hard losing the first set. Then in the second, (Dakota) wasn’t making a lot of mistakes.”
Along with the talent on the court, Lippert added that the loyal student section gave her squad an advantage.
“It was huge, just because they made it feel like you were always in your home gym, and I think they enjoyed being there, which was the best part,” Lippert said. “It was a really fun aspect to it that I know the coaching staff and kids never experienced before.”
Even rival coaches agreed.
“I’ve never seen a crowd affect a game (like them),” Troy coach Vince Muscat said. “They didn’t do anything wrong, either. That’s the beauty of it.”
Next season, Seaholm will be without its senior core of Erin Neuenfeldt, Lisa White, Kathy Quigley, Hailey Willett, Emma Schiefelbein and Claire Meads.
“The seniors have really pushed our program and changed the culture of our program. We really turned a corner because of their hard work, leadership, dedication and competitiveness,” Lippert said. “It started from them and carried down to the final person on the team.”