Hazel Park volleyball’s season came to an end Nov. 2, as the Vikings were defeated by Warren Fitzgerald 3-1 in a Class B district final.
Things looked good for Hazel Park early, winning the first game 25-22. Although Fitzgerald went on to take the next three games, it was no easy chore closing out Hazel Park.
Games two and three were tightly contested, with Fitzgerald winning 25-21 in the second game and 25-22 in the third. It wasn’t until the fourth game that the Spartans, after falling behind 1-0, scored nine unanswered points, creating a little distance that ultimately led to a 25-13 victory.
Although coach Sue Stuef was disappointed it wasn’t Hazel Park celebrating a district championship, she views making it as far as the Vikings did as a step in the right direction.
“I am extremely proud of my kids,” she said. “They fought like crazy, especially the first game. They just came out like gangbusters. They dominated. I think Fitzgerald was in shock with how we came out. We just couldn’t quite hold that level of play together. But I’ve got a great group of kids. We’ve come a long way between last year and this year.”
Hazel Park went 8-14-4 on the season, but Stuef isn’t using wins and losses as the only barometer to evaluate her team. She saw something in her squad that doesn’t always show up in a record book.
“I’m very happy with our season because of the progress we’ve made,” she said. “This is one of the greatest groups of kids I’ve worked with. I’ve coached for 25 seasons between volleyball, basketball and softball, and this is one awesome group of kids. I love them dearly, and they know that. They played so well together, and I can’t say enough nice things about them.”
Stuef believes that the Vikings can use their appearance in the district final as a steppingstone to bigger and better things. Although Hazel Park will lose seniors Felisha Paholsky, Jonnea Daley, Brittany Richardville and Taryn Goslow, Stuef expressed confidence that the Vikings will return with a strong nucleus of players intact next season.
“I think we’re going to do some really special things next year,” she said. “I think we’re going to do very well. We’re going to use this as our next jumping-off point. If we continue to move upward like we did this year and we continue that forward momentum, I don’t know what’s going to stop us next year. I really don’t.”