With an infusion of youth, it looked like the 2012 season would be a rebuilding year for the Utica Stevenson volleyball team.
That hasn’t been the case.
The Titans at press time had a record of 29-13-2, including an unblemished 8-0 record in the Macomb Area Conference White Division — good for first place.
“A lot of people thought this would be a rebuild year for us because we’re so young,” said Stevenson senior middle hitter Amy Coffin, one of only three seniors on the Titans’ roster.
“I think the way we practice has a lot to do with our success. We’re getting better every day, and that’s important now because this is the time of year when everything counts.”
Coffin, along with senior libero Emily Smith and senior outside hitter Jette Blokhuis, have led Stevenson this season, according to coach Paul Drdul.
Drdul said those three have played great volleyball all season, adding the younger players have made solid contributions, as well.
“The younger players have done everything they’ve needed to do and stepped up to help the program,” said Drdul, in his fifth year with the Titans.
“There’s a month period at the start of the season where, if you have a young team, they’re still finding their footing, but everyone has found a role.”
Smith, in her second year as a varsity player, said this year has been a bit different than 2011, when a senior-laden Stevenson squad won the school’s third division title in four years.
Smith said the team went through some growing pains early, but quickly found its footing and is in line for another MAC White Division title.
“We’re relying more on everybody this year. Last year, we could just look at the seniors, but we need everybody to contribute if we’re going to continue to win,” Smith said.
Drdul said his team’s success is due in part to its ability to soundly serve and receive, and play solid defense.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association state playoffs officially begins with districts Oct. 29. Stevenson opens district play Oct. 30 and will host a district tournament that will feature the Titans, Rochester High, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, Utica Ford II, Utica Eisenhower and Utica High.
Coffin said a second straight district title is the goal, adding that it will take more than scheme to accomplish that goal.
“It’s going to take a lot of heart,” she said. “We’ve got to want it more than anybody else.”
Stevenson wraps up the regular season with the Roseville Volley-Wild Tournament, set for 7:30 a.m. Oct. 27.
For information on the MHSAA playoffs, check www.candg news.com or www.mhsaa.com.