Dakota volleyball earns first district title since 2012

By: Timothy Pontzer | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 14, 2016

 Macomb Dakota senior outside hitter Jessica Lodge delivers a spike during a tournament earlier this season. Lodge will continue her volleyball career at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

Macomb Dakota senior outside hitter Jessica Lodge delivers a spike during a tournament earlier this season. Lodge will continue her volleyball career at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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Macomb Dakota’s volleyball campaign came to an end on Nov. 8 with a 3-0 loss to Clarkston High in the first round of regionals.

Despite the defeat, Cougars head coach Tracie Ferguson was still pleased with the year.

“As league play started, we continued to be successful, but also hit a few bumps in the road,” Ferguson said. “I am most proud of how the girls bounced back and wanted to continue to get better not only in the physical game but the mental part.”

The Cougars finished second in the Macomb Area Conference Red, sporting a 35-13-0 overall record, with a 7-3 mark in the league. Dakota only trailed Utica Eisenhower, handing the Eagles their lone Red loss this season on Oct. 13.

“Conference play this season was the toughest the MAC Red has been in a very long time,” Ferguson said. “Every match had the possibility of going to five without knowing who was going to come out on top. I felt we had a great season finishing second in one of the toughest leagues in the state and couldn’t be more proud.”

Earlier in the season, Dakota earned revenge against another Red rival. On Sept. 22, the Cougars swept Romeo High, the team that defeated them in last year’s postseason, notching their first win against the Bulldogs in four years. The victory ended a streak of 33 straight league wins by Romeo.

“These girls grew leaps and bounds with their game IQ on the ‘hows,’ ‘whys’ and ‘whens,’” Ferguson said. “This was a very special team, and they will truly be missed. (With) the closeness of the girls and the amazing parent support, we really were a family.”

On Nov. 1, the Cougars topped Romeo again, this time by a 3-1 margin. The victory earned Dakota its first district crown since 2012, something that Ferguson said would not be possible without her upperclassmen, including seniors Mackenzie Kepler, Jessica Lodge, Emily Jansen, Natalie Bobowski and Mallory Grager .

“We are losing five incredible seniors,” the coach said. “Not only are they talented on the volleyball court, but they are great teammates, great students and amazing young women.”

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