Lakeview seniors Alexis Pouttu and Autumn Wirick go up for a block during a game.

Lakeview seniors Alexis Pouttu and Autumn Wirick go up for a block during a game.

Photo provided by Kylee Pfeifer

Lakeview volleyball eyes historic feat behind tight-knit group

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 15, 2023

 St. Clair Shores Lakeview senior libero Ella Jensen goes for a serve.

St. Clair Shores Lakeview senior libero Ella Jensen goes for a serve.

Photo provided by Kylee Pfeifer


ST. CLAIR SHORES — There’s a different feeling around St. Clair Shores Lakeview volleyball this year.

Lakeview holds another extremely strong senior class and, to add on top of that, a young core of underclassmen who have made their mark throughout the season.

It’s shaping up to be a special season for the Huskies (12-2, 2-0 MAC Blue), and a historic feat may be on the horizon for this squad.

Lakeview has yet to bring home a district title throughout the school’s extensive history, and without having to face some of their district heavy hitters in the past like Grosse Pointe North or Grosse Pointe South, there’s a new feeling of confidence this year with Lakeview coach Tom Pfeifer and his squad.

“We got really lucky with our district draw this year, so he’s (coach Pfeifer) been saying, ‘This is the team to do it. This is the team I have a lot of faith in to do it,’” senior Alexis Pouttu said.

Pouttu headlines a talented senior group alongside senior libero Ella Jensen, an all-region selection last year. Jensen has been a staple for Lakeview volleyball for four years now and is looking to end her Lakeview career on a high note with seniors Makenna Burgette, Naomi Solomon, Autumn Wirick and Kylee Pfeifer.

There’s no disputing what the senior Huskies can do on the court because they’re doing it better than most right now, but arguably the biggest impact has come from their leadership in building the chemistry of this tight-knit group.

“I feel like this year is definitely a lot closer,” Jensen said. “I loved all the girls last year, especially the seniors that graduated, and we’re still really close, but with the seniors, and there’s a lot of seniors on the team, too, and the majority of our stronger players are younger. It’s kind of like a family because we’re taking care of them and making sure they’re getting what they need and learning what they need to learn.”

Support has arguably been the biggest contribution to this Lakeview squad, and look no further than the emergence of some of their standout sophomores this season.

Lakeview came into the season without a setter in place, which is something that easily could’ve been the downfall of their play this year, but sophomore setter Cece Decker ran away with the position.

Decker has been one of the most lethal players in Macomb County in the assist department, and the core of Wirick, Pouttu and Solomon have led to a dangerous combination on the hitting end.

To add to that already established hitting group, sophomore Emma Mulrenin came in and made her presence felt early.

Mulrenin’s older sister Stella, a 2022 Lakeview graduate, was a force for the volleyball squad during her tenure, and she has picked up right where her sister left off.

The sophomores are carrying their weight of responsibility, and the rest of the team is taking notice.

“We didn’t have a setter coming in this year, so we were trying to figure it out over the summer,” Wirick said. “We had a lot of workouts and these things called four-on-ones, which is four players working with one coach, and Cece (Decker) came in and worked every single day to get better. She earned the spot she has. She’s a great girl. She works really hard, and same with Emma (Mulrenin). Her sister came, so everyone knew who she was and expected a lot, and she swings as hard as she can whenever she can, and holds herself accountable.”

Support from this team has come in all facets, especially from senior Kylee Pfeifer.

Pfeifer has had to transition her senior leadership from a coach’s point of view after sustaining an ACL, meniscus and patella tendon injury five months ago but is continuing to be a vocal leader for her squad.

“It’s very strange,” Pfeifer said. “I’ve been playing since I was seven, so it’s a very strange transition from being in the game to being on the sidelines and having to support from afar.”

Pfeifer still holds out hope that she might be able to return for districts, which would be a major return for Lakeview to add onto this already loaded roster.

Now 12-2 on the season, Lakeview picked up a crucial league win over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley on Sept. 12 at Chippewa Valley High School.

Chippewa Valley took the first two games, but Lakeview rebounded with three-straight to earn the match win.

“I am so proud my girls found a way to fight back in what turned out to be a street brawl between both teams,” Pfeifer said. “Swing after swing, dig after dig, it was a great match to watch and Chippewa Valley played extremely well.”

Decker tallied 49 assists and 14 digs while Wirick and Mulrenin collected 12 and 16 kills respectively. Jensen was pivotal on the backline, earning 35 digs and 25 serve receptions while Mulrenin also earned 15 digs and 26 serve receptions. Solomon earned 46 attacks and seven kills in the win.

Lakeview will carry their momentum into the War in the Shores match on Sept. 19 against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore before resuming league play against Port Huron Northern on Sept. 20.