Liggett volleyball hopes to have successful follow-up to 2011

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 13, 2012

Last season was Joseph LaMagno’s first year as the head coach of the Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett volleyball team.

The Knights’ 2011 campaign included a district championship and a trip to the regional finals, where they fell to Madison Heights Bishop Foley. It is the longest run a Liggett volleyball team has had in at least seven years, and the success the Knights enjoyed was certainly a nice way for LaMagno to get his program started.

But as impressive as last year’s run may have been, what may be even more satisfying to LaMagno is the feedback he has received from his players this season. He has discovered that his squad doesn’t appear to be content to rest on its laurels.

“We had a team meeting, and I asked the girls to come up with goals,” LaMagno said. “I don’t want it to be my goals, because they won’t work as hard. Last year, it was ‘win districts.’ Now the goal has changed. Instead of just winning districts, ‘Hey, let’s win (a regional title).’ They’ve upped the ante themselves — had nothing to do with me.

“That’s kind of the mindset now, that we need to build on what we accomplished last year and keep moving forward.”

Other than the loss of graduated seniors Haley Smith and Anne Slick, the core of Liggett’s 2011 squad is still in tact. The Knights have five seniors on the roster, and according to LaMagno, his group of upperclassmen played a big role in last season’s success.

Tori Wuthrich received All-State honors last season, and along with Ashley Rahi, she is a team captain. LaMagno believes that along with their fellow seniors, they have helped to set a nice example for the rest of the team.

“We have two good, solid captains,” he said. “But even the group of seniors that weren’t picked as captains are still leaders. They help the younger girls out. Whether they’re a captain or not, they’re supportive. It’s a great bunch of kids, it really is.”

LaMagno is looking at the regular season as a good opportunity to prepare the Knights for the postseason. In an attempt to help get his team ready for what he hopes will be an even longer run, LaMagno scheduled games against the likes of Oakland Christian and Country Day.

The best preparation can be experience, and LaMagno believes that aside from a challenging regular-season schedule, the Knights should be able to use last year’s postseason accomplishments to their advantage.

“I think that experience will help us later on,” he said. “Like, we’ve been here before. We know what it takes now. The expectations are high, but they’re attainable.”

At press time, Liggett had an overall record of 8-7.