Rochester Hills Stoney Creek middle hitter Ainsely Guse returns a ball over the net during a match Sept. 17 against Bloomfield Hills High. Guse is expected to be of the main offensive stars the Cougars roster boasts this season.

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek middle hitter Ainsely Guse returns a ball over the net during a match Sept. 17 against Bloomfield Hills High. Guse is expected to be of the main offensive stars the Cougars roster boasts this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Local volleyball teams return to action

By: Jacob Herbert | Rochester Post | Published September 22, 2020

 Rochester Adams coach Terry Baughman huddles with his team at a recent practice. Baughman is in his second year as coach of the Highlanders.

Rochester Adams coach Terry Baughman huddles with his team at a recent practice. Baughman is in his second year as coach of the Highlanders.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROCHESTER HILLS — Amidst a public health crisis, it’s no secret that 2020 has been a strange year. Citizens all over the world, even those in the state of Michigan, have had to adjust to a new way of living. Now more than ever, people are desperate to return to a normal life.

Coaches, athletes and parents got a little taste of normalcy when the Michigan High School Athletic Association sent out a release Sept. 3 allowing for the immediate start of competition for volleyball on Sept. 9.

“We’re all excited about it,” Rochester High coach Kirk Gibbs said. “When we first got to go back in the gym, you could see it in their faces. They were thrilled to be back on an actual gym floor. They did everything they could to try to work on grass, but it’s just not the same.”

Even though athletes are allowed back in the gym, there are several protocols that need to be followed in order to fight the spread of COVID-19. To list a few, all coaches and students must be screened daily for symptoms of the virus, including a temperature check. Schools are also strongly encouraged to use a digital and cashless ticketing system for events.

Among many other restrictions listed on the MHSAA website, volleyball athletes are required to wear a face covering during competition. This includes athletes not currently in the game, coaches, managers, trainers, statisticians, media and anyone else on the sidelines. It is also recommended that officials wear face coverings, though it is not required.

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek coach Ross Talbott said his team was elated to learn the season was back on. One set away from a Division 1 regional final last season, the Cougars are a team that hopes to make a similar mark on the season this time around.

“We’re very excited the season is on,” Talbott said. “The girls are on cloud nine, and I’m glad we’ve got a season. We’ve got some things to do this year.”

Rochester Adams coach Terry Baughman said his team is “extremely excited” now that the season is back on. The second-year head man at Adams said the delay was frustrating, but the return to play has been nice, especially for the seniors.

Baughman is looking to build on a season where his team was 28-17 overall and 3-4 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division last year. After receiving a first-round bye in the district playoffs, the Highlanders bowed out to Stoney Creek in the semifinal in five sets.

Now that the program has a system in place that the team has bought into, the focus centers around growth and taking Adams volleyball to the next level.

Senior Payton Bolach and junior Jacoby Fylnn have been named captains this year and will be responsible to lend a hand in leading the team.

“They never give up and never complain. They just go out and do the best they possibly can,” Baughman said of his captains. “Yes, they’ll make mistakes, but they don’t let it bother them. They don’t complain; they just go out and work.”

For Stoney Creek, Talbott said the regional semifinal loss to Lake Orion High left a thorn in the side of his team throughout the offseason. Despite a top-six final ranking in the state, as well as churning out a 57-9 overall record, good for the best season in school history, the Cougars were frustrated with how the season ended and enter 2020 hungry for more.

Stoney Creek finished 6-1 in the OAA Red last season. It will rely on the likes of Ainsley Guse, Sydney Tomlak, Ella Markevics, Halle Lieffers and Emma Beyer to carry the load for the team this season.

Talbott said his team brings a lot of offensive firepower into the gym and that it starts with Guse.

“Ainsley is probably one of if not the top middle (hitter) in the state,” Talbott said. “We’ve been working a lot on blocking and defense the past few days to get that better. If we can put our serve-receive together with our defense, I think we’ll be strong this year.”

Last season, Rochester High finished the season 15-34-2 overall and 3-4 in the OAA White. Gibbs thinks his team is set to have a solid season now that the delay has been lifted. The Falcons are a versatile team and mix people up in terms of positions on the floor. The coach said Rochester will be just fine once everybody is able to settle in.

The Falcons are led by senior captains Megan Lorenzo and Ananya Rangarajan. Gibbs said his team has been blessed to have some great senior leadership over the years. Lorenzo and Rangarajan are expected to follow in those footsteps.

“They don’t get flustered, they’re positive, they keep everybody pumped up, but they’re also very competitive,” Gibbs said. “They’re both very solid young ladies, and they’re going to provide good leadership.”

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