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Royal Oak

September 11, 2013

Royal Oak High volleyball enters season with experience

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Royal Oak High’s Aimee Judd prepares to return a serve in practice Sept. 6. The Ravens have five returning starters.

ROYAL OAK — It was the first match of the season, and Royal Oak High volleyball was taking on Madison Heights Lamphere.

“With only five or six practices under our belt, I was a little scared going in,” Royal Oak coach Heidi Studebaker admitted. “They handled the basics really well. There are some little things we need to work on and personal things for each kid, but the basics are all there.”

The Ravens’ fundamental performance resulted in a 3-1 victory Aug. 27 at Lamphere, putting Royal Oak at 1-0 at press time.

Studebaker hopes that with five returning starters from a squad that finished third in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division and played for a district title last season, that the winning trend continues.

“If you have that many girls that played with you an entire season, you expect a lot more out of them. They’re leaders and help the younger kids coming in, too,” Studebaker said.

The coach added that while the team started expanding the offense near the end of the year last season, this time around, the Ravens have already begun to add to the playbook.

On the defensive side, Studebaker said she believes that is the team’s strong point.

“The majority of my returners can play all the way around, which makes them pretty strong,” she said. “I also have some bigger front-row players than I’ve had in the past.”

Senior Emily Saleski said that the team’s chemistry is also a strength.

“We know where we’re going with the ball, the plays we’re going to do and what’s going to happen,” she said. “I feel like we can just tell because we know each other so well.”

Studebaker and the rest of the Ravens hope the continuity and chemistry lead to an OAA Blue title. The coach said the key is consistency.

“Like every team, we struggle with breakdowns in the middle of games. You make a few mistakes and start to get down on yourself,” she said. “I told the girls, ‘You have to play like every point is the most important point.’”

Catch the Ravens against Clawson High at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17 on the road.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.