The Berkley High School varsity volleyball team has a lot of steam heading into the playoffs, as they will finish the regular season as co-champs in the Oakland Activities Association White Division. They had 27 wins at press time.

The Berkley High School varsity volleyball team has a lot of steam heading into the playoffs, as they will finish the regular season as co-champs in the Oakland Activities Association White Division. They had 27 wins at press time.

Photo provided by Adam Sheehan


Berkley volleyball has high hopes for playoff run after successful season

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 26, 2021

 Jordan Budzinski gets ready for a bump during a Berkley Bears volleyball game. The team started the season with nine consecutive wins, gaining momentum for one of its most successful regular seasons ever.

Jordan Budzinski gets ready for a bump during a Berkley Bears volleyball game. The team started the season with nine consecutive wins, gaining momentum for one of its most successful regular seasons ever.

Photo provided by Adam Sheehan

BERKLEY — Berkley High School’s varsity volleyball team has a lot to be proud of as it heads into the end of its regular season.

The team finished the season as co-champions of the Oakland Activities Association’s White Division with a 6-1 record. It currently has a 27-5 overall record with one regular season quad tournament left on Oct. 27.

Head coach Eric Wachterhauser arrived to lead the team last season, when the Bears posted a 16-13 overall record and won the OAA’s Blue Division. It was, according to Wachterhauser, the team’s first winning season in a decade.

Last year, Wachterhauser brought six sophomores onto the varsity team with the idea of developing the young players.

“Some of that started to show itself toward the end of last season, especially making a nice run (and) winning the district for only the third time in school history — which was outstanding — before falling to the No. 1 team in the state in Mercy (High School in Farmington Hills) in the first round of regionals,” he said.

The Bears took their success from the end of last season and continued at the beginning of this year, winning their first nine matches.

Sophia Dawkins was one of the prior year’s sophomores who took her experience from 2020 to become a leader and captain for the 2021 squad. She said that everyone on the team was excited to move into the White Division and credited their success to having a similar team to last season.

“We started off pretty jelled together. Everything was going well,” she said. “Of course, there’s a few kinks you need to work out, but at the beginning of the season, we already clicked, jelled perfectly, we have a great team bond, we hang out all the time — like every single weekend. … We have a really strong bond, which I do think helps a lot with team chemistry on the court as well.”

Senior Claire Leonard concurred.

“We didn’t just go into the season with getting to know each other,” she said. “We immediately hung out with each other, and we got to know each other, and we didn’t just go into the games hoping that there’d be that chemistry. We made the chemistry.”

That being said, Wachterhauser said that going 6-1 in the division and having more than 26 wins was not their expectation, and they thought they’d end up somewhere in the middle of the pack.

With a solid core of juniors and experienced seniors, Wachterhauser said, the kids have brought forth a lot of effort and heart in trying to win this year.

“The kids are a solid core that brings passion for the game, they’re usually quite coachable, and they bring a little bit of power behind them too,” he said. “It’s a fun way to roll, and you add a couple of seniors that picked up things very, very quickly last year ... it makes for a really nice combination of good kids, good GPA, they’re nice, they’re fun to be around, and when they really get the taste to go find that win, they can elevate their game to another level.”

The Bears will begin their playoff run on Nov. 1 against Oak Park High School. After falling in the playoffs last year, the team has high hopes to get through districts again and not only make it to regionals, but win.

“Regionals, I think this year is very big because I don’t think Berkley has gone or won regionals in a very long time, or ever,” Dawkins said. “That’s a big goal for us. Of course we want to go as far as possible, but I think the biggest goal we have right now is winning regionals.”