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Published October 17, 2012

Youth movement puts East Detroit squarely in race for MAC Bronze title

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East Detroit High junior outside hitter Victoria Grimes, right, looks to block a shot by teammate Tiffany Wilson during an early-season practice. Grimes has proven to be the leader of the team on the court, according to coach Kevin Nugent, and the Shamrocks have a shot to win their first division title since 2009.

EASTPOINTE — Injuries to players in key spots haven’t kept the East Detroit volleyball team from finding itself in the thick of the race for the Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division title, according to coach Kevin Nugent.

“We’ve just called up some girls from JV, and they’ve done well for the most part,” said Nugent, whose Shamrocks had a record of 5-10, 4-2 in the MAC Bronze at press time. “We’ve been without three players for a little while, but other girls have come in and stepped up.”

Those players who’ve stepped up include freshman outside hitter Bre’shauna Bester and sophomore libero Brianne Hall, according to Nugent.

Junior middle-hitters Keiara Nelson and Tiffany Wilson have made solid contributions, as well, Nugent said. This is the first year of high school volleyball for both girls, he said.

“I always wanted to try out, but I never thought I was good enough to play high school volleyball,” Nelson said. “But I’m glad I did, and I think our team has grown a lot this year.”

The emergence of the younger and less-experienced players has limited the playing time for some of the seniors. Nugent said those seniors have shown grace in taking their new roles in stride.

“Everyone knows playing time is at a premium,” Nugent said, “so for those two seniors to accept lesser roles shows how much they care about the success of the team, and that’s helped us out a lot because this group has great chemistry.”

Sophomore outside hitter Victoria Grimes continues to lead the Shamrocks on the court, Nugent said. He said in a very short time, Grimes, who Nugent believes will play collegiate volleyball, has grown into a very tenacious player.

That tenacity will be key for East Detroit.

At press time, the Shamrocks sat in third place in the MAC Bronze — two games behind first-place New Haven. East Detroit has four league matches to play, including playing host to New Haven at 6 p.m. Oct. 18.

That matchup could prove to be huge, as the Shamrocks are looking for their first division title since 2009.

“I think it’d be great if we could (win the division),” Wilson said. “To be where the team was last year, and come back and win the division, that’d be great.”

“It’d be like a starting point for us because we have so many young players,” Nelson said. “It’d give us a lot of confidence going into the future.”

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