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November 26, 2013

Center Line High volleyball coach pleased with team’s performance in 2013

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Center Line High volleyball coach pleased with team’s performance in 2013
The Center Line High volleyball team tallied the program’s most wins in a season since 2005. Pictured are Panthers players huddled around coach Len Hernandez during a regional semifinal Nov. 12 at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

CENTER LINE — The 2013 edition of the Center Line High volleyball team became just the third in program history to win a district title, downing St. Clair Shores South Lake 3-0 in a Michigan High School Athletic Association Class B district championship match.

That match took place Nov. 7 at Center Line. Panthers coach Len Hernandez said accomplishing the feat at home made it that much more special.

“It was amazing to see the amount of fans who came out to support our team,” said Hernandez, who also guided Center Line to a district title in 2009. “With the fans from the other team being in attendance, it made our gym electrifying. The noise, the cheering, the excitement — that’s what made the victory more special.”

The Panthers’ season ended in a 3-0 loss to Pontiac Notre Dame Prep Nov. 12 at Prep. Center Line ended the season at 15-16-8.

Hernandez said his players were, naturally, upset following the loss. He said he focused on the positive aspects of the team’s season following the setback.

“I told them that they were the third team in Center Line history to make it to the (regional round). And we won a district title,” said Hernandez, who in his sixth year with the program guided the Panthers to their most wins since 2005. “Over the last three weeks (of the season), our team was 12-3-2, and we peaked at the right time.

“Each player improved from the first day of practice to the (Notre Dame Prep match). We should not be ashamed that we lost to Notre Dame Prep. We should be proud of our accomplishments as a team. … With the talent, coaches and support for the volleyball program, we are only getting stronger.”

That team featured 12 seniors — the most Hernandez said he has had at one time. He said the heights the team reached this season meant a lot to that group, which includes co-captains Maela Jimenez and Maya Abouya. Hernandez said each of those seniors made a positive contribution to the squad this season.

The Center Line coach said he will return just four players next season — sophomores Erin Bracey and Taylor Brooklier, and juniors Jade Smith (a co-captain this season) and Mackenzie Leutzinger. Hernandez said each of those players improved greatly as the season went along, and he’s confident they’ll be able to contribute to the program’s success.

“Our JV and freshman teams have many players who have also shown improvement, and I feel confident we can fill voids,” said Hernandez, who at the start of the season said 60 girls tried for each of Center Line’s three volleyball teams.

“It will be a rebuilding year for Center Line, but we will still go out and play our hardest.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.