Dakota volleyball captures first MAC Red title

By: Sue Teggart | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 2, 2011

 The Dakota volleyball squad celebrates a point during a tournament earlier in the season. Dakota finished the regular season with a share of the MAC Red Division title.

The Dakota volleyball squad celebrates a point during a tournament earlier in the season. Dakota finished the regular season with a share of the MAC Red Division title.

Photo by David Schreiber

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Macomb Dakota volleyball coach Tracie Ferguson had been preparing her team for this moment since she took the helm of the program four years ago.

So when her team was 0-2 in the MAC Red Division early in the season, she knew her players would respond to the challenge.

And respond they did, winning eight straight matches en route to capturing its first MAC Red Division title, one they share with Marysville High.

“We didn’t start off too strong, losing our two openers — to Grosse Pointe North and Marysville — but then after that, we switched some things up and figured things out, and the girls did exactly what they wanted to do,” said Ferguson. “It was a huge accomplishment, and we were very excited about that.”

Ferguson said making adjustments helped the squad find its rhythm.

“As far as our offense, instead of running with a 6-2, we switched to a 5-1. But we still utilized both of our setters when doing so,” Ferguson said. “Another one of our switches was on our defense, as far as who plays what position.

“A lot of it was us growing in the beginning of the year and getting the reps that they needed to make it more of a natural thing,” Ferguson said.

Through the second half of the season, Ferguson credited the Cougars’ success to having a stronger mental game. In the eighth week, Dakota avenged its earlier losses, defeating Marysville in four games and North in five.

“Once we got through teams the first round, obviously, we knew what our two losses were,” Fergson said. “We really sat down and talked about what hurt us in the beginning — what were our weaknesses, what were our strengths — and prepared for the opponents we lost to. It gave the girls something mentally to prepare for.

“I felt they were mentally focused the next time they faced Marysville. Both teams have the physical aspect, but I think it was our mental game that kept us in it.”

Ferguson said with a MAC Red title under its belt, the program has set a standard for Dakota volleyball as one of the elite teams in the MAC.

“Moving up to the Red for Dakota shows that they have the talent; they have the players,” Ferguson said. “I think being in the Red, it’s more of a mental aspect that we’ve been able to bring in as far as these teams that they play in the Red — not only physically are they strong, but they’re in the Red because they’re mentally tough.

“These teams don’t leave the Red because they’ve built that reputation; they’ve built that tradition,” Ferguson continued. “It’s something we’ve instilled in them, and we want that factor at Dakota. I think we’ve worked these past four years where we’re able to be one of those teams.”

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