The dream postseason run has come to an end for Troy Athens volleyball, and days removed from the final match, coach Christine Stanichuk still beams with pride about her team’s accomplishments.
The Red Hawks fell to Clarkston High in three games in a Class A regional semifinal Nov. 12 at Lake Orion High, but not before winning the program’s first district championship since 2005.
“I think everyone counted Athens out early in the playoffs, and it was nice to have these girls this season,” the coach said. “I was so proud of them that they got that district championship, because they deserved it.”
The Red Hawks finish the year 42-37 overall and 2-5 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.
“Our record doesn’t speak for the talent on this team, but as great as the amount of talent, their hearts are even greater,” Stanichuk said.
The coach added that despite struggles in the division, the belief that greater things were to come never waivered.
“I think that after the 2-5 finish in the division, the captains, the seniors, the whole team came together and it was, ‘You know, we can do this.’ They just started hitting balls in and blocking balls, and playing better volleyball than they did all season,” Stanichuk said. “They just started getting the job done, and turned things around and went on a great dominating streak. It didn’t stop until, unfortunately, the regional.”
Clarkston won 25-10, 25-11, 25-13.
“I knew going in that Clarkston would be tough. They were undefeated in (the OAA Red). I knew it was going to be really tough, but I expected to give them a good run for their money,” Stanichuk said. “They definitely ran a quick offense, but we weren’t putting balls down and made errors. I’m not trying to say our errors caused them to win, though, because they were a great team.”
The loss marked the final match for seniors Lauren Atwell, Hailey Patrick, Mary Grace Stark and Haley Zemmer.
“Our four seniors were so awesome. … They will be greatly missed,” the coach said. “Feeding off this big high of getting a banner on the wall, our juniors and underclassmen are so fired up. I think this was just what Athens needed to get us back in the game again. It’s just exciting. I want to add another number up there (on the banner) next year.”