TROY — Troy Athens volleyball coach Christine Stanichuk isn’t shy about talking about her vision for the program.
She takes the girls into the gym to show them the banners of previous state championship programs and tells them that one day they could have a banner raised for them, too.
“I even have my spot picked out,” Stanichuk said with a smile during practice Aug. 22. “As a coach, you dream of it, and it’s something you want. Hopefully, with hard work, one day I’d love to bring home that title for Red Hawk volleyball.”
Stanichuk draws inspiration from a fellow Oakland Activities Association school.
Last year, Lake Orion High became the first OAA team to ever make a state championship match. The Dragons eventually lost to Rockford High in three games.
“It just goes to show that any team with hard work and determination can make it happen, but we have our work cut out for us,” Stanichuk said. “We’re young. It won’t happen over night, but we have a good core group of girls. It’s an exciting future for Athens volleyball, that’s for sure.”
Last season, the Red Hawks finished 6-3 in the OAA White, which tied them for third. Athens returns seven girls from that squad and adds another seven from the JV level.
Lauren Taylor, Erica Siismets and Rachel Martens are captains and the only seniors on the roster.
“We have a lot of returning players, and we’ve all played with each other before, so the chemistry is there,” Siismets said. “We’re all familiar with how we play. That makes it a lot easier when we’re on the court running our plays, and we know our strengths and weaknesses.”
Stanichuk said the team is focusing on speeding up their offensive transition, doing a lot of drills focusing on footwork and doing them well.
“The team is looking to step up and show that even though we are a young team, we have something to prove,” the coach said. “Across the board … we’re strong.”