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Sterling Heights

October 9, 2013

Ford II volleyball getting it together as districts approach

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Utica Ford II girls volleyball team is hoping to peak as the MHSAA sate playoffs hit. The Falcons will host a Class A district, which will begin Nov. 4. Pictured is Ford II senior outside hitter Megan Golm, right, and freshman defensive specialist Maddy Goss during the 2013 Macomb County Kickoff Classic, which took place Aug. 23 at the Michigan Elite Volleyball Camp.

STERLING HEIGHTS — Utica Ford II volleyball coach Lisa Sanford said that despite her team’s record not being what she would like, she is continuously seeing improvements from Falcons players.

“I think, physically, our game is there,” said Sanford, whose team had a mark of 8-17-2, 0-3 Macomb Area Conference White Division at press time.

“Now, it’s the mental part that’s missing — how to win and close out games,” Sanford said. “We’re getting really close.

“We lost in three (games) to (MAC White leader) Romeo (Sept. 26), but all the games were close. They play a different game once they get close to that 25-point mark, so we’re working on team bonding and getting right mentally at the end of games.”

Senior defensive specialist and libero Hannah Domke, a two-year varsity player, said she could see a lot of skill and power in the team. She said the team has to learn to put everything together.

Sanford said fixing the mental miscues is a tough thing to coach. She said the team bonding could help the players trust one another, and themselves, in tight games.

The Falcons’ coach said digging and defense are the team’s strengths, adding that blocking is an area Ford II is working to improve. The team has been watching game film and is beginning to see, and eliminate, mistakes.

“We’re doing a lot of things at practice that make them have to dig a little deeper,” Sanford said. “We’ve got five seniors on the team who want to win really badly, and we’re just trying to get everything right and win some games.”

The five seniors are outside hitters Megan Golm, Alexis Williams, Sam Olson, Angel Grishaj and Domke.

Sanford is hopeful the team can get everything straightened out in time for the Michigan High School Athletic Association district tournament, which begin Nov. 4. Ford II will host a Class A district, welcoming Romeo, Utica Eisenhower (first place in the MAC Blue), Sterling Heights Stevenson and Utica High into the Falcons’ gym.

“That’s huge,” Sanford said. “Hosting a district is always a big plus for any team. Their attitudes perked up as soon as I told them that.”

Domke said that the team could do well at districts if it keeps its focus. She said there is added pressure that comes with hosting the tournament, though.

Although the team is performing admirably, Sanford said she would like to see a bit more fire from her players.

“I would like to see them get some grit and some meanness — find your inner mean and bring that out onto the court,” Sanford said.

The Falcons next hit the court for a matchup against Grosse Pointe South, set for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at South.

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