STERLING HEIGHTS — First-year Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse volleyball coach Derek Ledwidge took the position Aug. 16 — the second day of fall tryouts.
Ledwidge took over a team that had won a 2012 Michigan High School Athletic Association Class A district title, but those Lancers went 0-10 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division and finished the season with a record that was below .500.
Ledwidge said this year’s group exceeded expectations, even as it fell 3-0 to Romeo High in a 2013 MHSAA Class A regional final played Nov. 14 at Sterling Heights Stevenson.
The 2013 edition of the Lancers went 9-1 and shared the MAC Red title with Macomb Dakota, which won a Class A state title in 2012. L’Anse Creuse ended the season with a mark of 30-16-2. The 30 wins are double the Lancers’ win total from last season.
The division title was the first for the program since 2009.
“I had high expectations for us, but in no way did I expect us to reach the regional finals,” Ledwidge said after the Nov. 14 match.
Romeo, which knocked off Dakota 3-2 Nov. 12 to get to the regional final, controlled the Nov. 14 match, leading for all but four points in the three-game match. Game one was tied at five before the Bulldogs took over, going on a 10-1 run to take a 15-6 lead before taking the first stanza 25-14.
Romeo led game two from start to finish, winning 25-18. The Bulldogs built as much as a seven-point lead in the second game.
The last frame saw four lead changes and nine ties early. Romeo took a 10-9 lead over the Lancers (30-16-2) and went on to win the game 25-18.
“We have a very strong offensive game, and when our defense is there, then we have the privilege of running that offensive game, and our defense did a great job tonight,” said Romeo coach Stacy Williams, who led the program to its first regional title since 1997. “Not just our passing defense, but our blocking defense. They were strong at the net tonight.”
Ledwidge said his team played the best game it could but that Romeo was just better in the end. He called the Bulldogs a very solid team that doesn’t make many errors.
Ledwidge called this season’s turnaround special.
“As the season went on, the expectations definitely changed,” said Ledwidge, who should have 10 of the 15 players on this year’s roster back for 2014 but loses key seniors Olivia Martin, Jaevyn Wortham, Leah Rose, Sam Pickett and Natalie Courtright.
“I’m beyond proud of the girls.”