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Harrison Township

September 11, 2013

L’Anse Creuse volleyball team strong out of the gate

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse volleyball team is looking for its first league title since 2009. Pictured is Lancers outside hitter Gabby Winnega (23) during the 2013 Macomb County Kickoff Classic, which took place Aug. 23 in Warren.

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse volleyball team may have a new coach, but the Lancers, it seems, have not missed a beat.

L’Anse Creuse had a mark of 6-1 at press time and won the 2013 Macomb County Kickoff Classic, which took place Aug. 23 at the Michigan Elite Volleyball Camp in Warren. Several Macomb County teams took part in the invite, using the tournament as an early season test to see where their programs sat at the outset of the 2013 campaign.

The Lancers knocked off Grosse Pointe South in the championship match.

First-year Lancers coach Derek Ledwidge — taking over for Alysia Williams, who last season led L’Anse Creuse to their first Michigan High School Athletic Association Class A district title since 2009 — said he attributes the Kickoff Classic win to his team’s back-row defense and attitude.

“Our back row was able to read the others teams’ hitters very well,” Ledwidge said. “All of the games were close throughout the day, and we started each game very slow.

“Our intense, never-let-up attitude got us back into every game and allowed us to finish games when they were close. Our girls used this attitude throughout the day when all other teams were dying off during a very long and hot day.”

That attitude could stem from the fact the Lancers return nine players from last season’s district title-winning squad. That group, which turned it on in the postseason after going 13-30-1 in the regular season, includes senior middle blocker/hitter Jaevyn Wortham, senior outside hitter Leah Rose and senior setter Sam Picckett. Those three have been named captains for the season.

Ledwidge said his team — a member of the Macomb Area Conference Red Division — will play scrappy and with lots of intensity. He said Lancers players would also play very fast, since that is what is stressed in every practice and game.

“Our main goal is to always go for the kill and never give (the opposition) a free ball,” Ledwidge said. “We are able to communicate very well and accomplish this goal consistently.”

Ledwidge said L’Anse Creuse is strong in the back row and at hitter. He said that in order to be a complete team, the Lancers must work on blocking and hitting, adding that even though L’Anse Creuse returns several players, the team must hit consistently to keep opponents on the run.

Since winning the MAC Red in 2009, L’Anse Creuse has struggled in league play. Ledwidge said he can see signs of a turnaround.

“I’m really excited for the season. We have a very energetic team with great leadership,” Ledwidge said. “I feel we will be competitive in every game we play. If we continue to play like we have been … we will be able to win those close and competitive games we are likely to have.

“If we are able to continue to improve on our hitting and blocking, I see no reason we can’t do well in our league.”

The Lancers next hit the court for a matchup against Port Huron Northern, set for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Port Huron Northern.

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