Eisenhower defeats Sterling Heights in straight sets to claim 1st place in MAC Blue

By: Thomas Franz | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 9, 2013

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Utica Eisenhower’s volleyball contest with Sterling Heights on Oct. 3 was a matchup of the last two remaining unbeaten teams in the MAC Blue.

By the team Eisenhower finished off a convincing straight set victory 25-19, 25-11, 25-20, it became clear that the Eagles are now the team to beat in the division.

Senior Hailee Seifert led the Eagles with 12 kills, 12 digs and seven aces. Victoria Genna, also a senior, contributed three kills with four blocks and four aces. Emily Rizzi had 12 digs, while Taylor Stewart added 24 assists.

Eisenhower coach Caitlin Maloney said that her team is continuing to make strides as the season moves into the second half of league play.

“We’re almost at the halfway point, and you want to hope that your team is peaking. You never want to plateau, and you just want to keep getting better. Our goal each game is to improve on our weaknesses and go from there and keep playing better for districts,” Maloney said.

Julianna Trombley, who had seven kills and 21 digs, led Sterling Heights (18-11-2, 3-1 MAC Blue).

Sterling Heights coach Eric Wachterhauser said that his team will have to bounce back quickly to keep league title hopes alive.

“It’s got to be a collective effort. We usually do a really nice job of that, but maybe it was just an off day. We need to have some sharp practices to bounce back quickly,” Wachterhauser said. “If we can take care of business in the rest of the league games, that would be outstanding.”

It was apparent during the match against Sterling Heights that a big part of the Eagles’ success appears to come from the versatility that each player possesses. Rizzi said that’s an important aspect of this year’s team.

“Our coach looks for players who can play every position, no matter what they’re put in. It’s good, because it keeps us together as a team, and when the scrappy plays come, we can get it over the net,” Rizzi said.

Rizzi is currently ranked among the leaders in Michigan for digs, and her role is critical to set up Eisenhower’s front line for success. 

“We have to get the ball up to keep the play going; they don’t get a hit if we don’t return that pass. It’s all about trying to get points, and we have to prevent the other team from getting them. I try to keep the passes low and efficient so Taylor (Stewart) can set them up right away,” Rizzi said.

Rizzi is joined by Seifert and Genna as the core of senior leaders. Seifert and Genna each had runs of three consecutive aces against Sterling Heights.

“She’s (Seifert) been doing really well serving. We’ve been able to get a lot of points off her back there, and she dominates the net. We get a lot of good swings out of her, and she’s definitely a leader out there,” Maloney said.  “Victoria (Genna) has been putting the ball down well consistently. That’s attributed to the passes we have coming out of the back row, and then we’re able to set up a quick offense.  It’s our goal each time to speed things up as much as possible.”

Genna said that the chemistry that she and Seifert have on the front line comes from playing together in the offseason the past two years, as well as for Eisenhower.

“We’ve played club together for two years, and we just know our attitudes and behaviors are the same. We know how the other acts, and we know which balls we’re going to get, so we just work together and we mesh so easily, and we just have really good chemistry on the court,” Genna said.

Seifert explained that Eisenhower’s efforts to grow closer off the court are paying dividends on the court, as well.

“We’re really working on bonding and becoming closer with each other off the court, so that’s helping us come together on the court, as well,” Seifert said. “Victoria and I have always been on the same page, and we’re always working to get quicker sets, quicker hits and bringing intensity.”

After an Oct. 8 date with Warren Mott, Eisenhower (23-5, 4-0 MAC Blue) will travel to Utica to take on the Chieftains on Oct. 10.