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September 5, 2012

Lamphere volleyball looks to stay on top

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

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Lamphere volleyball looks to stay on top
Madison Heights Lamphere’s Erin Denmark swings away during the MAC Kickoff tournament Aug. 17. The Rams are hoping to defend their division and district tournament titles.

Last season, Lamphere’s volleyball team captured a share of a league title and won the program’s first district title since 1994.

And although winning can bring with it increased expectations, that’s just the way coach Jamie Uhlmann prefers it.

Uhlmann is not shying away from creating some more big goals for the 2012 Rams.

“We definitely are shooting to repeat as league champions, which would be nice,” she said. “We have a really good shot at that. And it would be nice to go back and be district champs, but you go one step at a time.”

Uhlmann is not alone in her expectations. Middle hitter Sara Ormsby said she thinks a repeat of the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division and a district title are in reach.

“That’s what we’re pushing towards,” Ormsby said. “We’re working hard. We definitely want to take district champs, and we hope to take at least regional champs — if not go further than that this year.”

If Lamphere is going to win any titles, it is going to have to do so without the services of some key members from last year’s squad. The Rams graduated seven players, and Uhlmann knows that in order for the team to return to form, she is going to need a different set of playmakers.

Fortunately for Uhlmann, she believes she has found some players who are ready to answer that challenge.

After losing two players (Kelsey Meyer and Lauren Wands) at the setter position, Uhlmann was concerned that there may not be anybody ready to step in to fill the hole. But it appears that juniors Alexis Hilliard and Marisa Clarke may be ready to do their part.

“I graduated two senior setters who were phenomenal,” Uhlmann said. “I have two junior setters that are filling in and doing an unbelievable job.”

Uhlmann has some experienced leadership in seniors Michaela Louis, Christine Ello, Shannon Paavo and Ormsby. They represent four of the team’s five returning players.

Six juniors and two sophomores make up the rest of the roster.

Uhlmann said she hopes that the pieces are in place to help Lamphere avoid any title droughts going forward. Those pieces include solid coaching from the seventh-grade level on up.

Uhlmann is taking both a short- and long-term view of the Rams’ future.

“What I’ve been working towards is to build the program back up, so we’re competitive,” she said. “I’m really optimistic. This year should be a good year. It really should.”

Lamphere is next scheduled to be in action at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 against Ferndale at home.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.