Lamphere volleyball near the top of the MAC Silver again

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published September 27, 2019

 Madison Heights Lamphere senior Lexi Gross attempts to get the ball over the net against Warren Mott Sept. 24. Lamphere returned the majority of its players from last season.

Madison Heights Lamphere senior Lexi Gross attempts to get the ball over the net against Warren Mott Sept. 24. Lamphere returned the majority of its players from last season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Prior to the start of this year’s campaign, Madison Heights Lamphere’s volleyball program had won three consecutive Macomb Area Conference Silver Division championships, with one of those titles being shared with Roseville High.

The Rams went 71-19-2 overall and 29-1 in division play during that span.

The Rams entered this season having not lost a MAC Silver matchup since 2016.

And with nine of 11 players returning from last season, Lamphere was in position to continue its domination in the division.

But then came a 3-1 loss against Clawson High in the Rams’ MAC Silver opener this season.

Although it wasn’t something she was expecting, from the perspective of coach Patty Waidknecht, the loss may have been an “eye-opener” for her team.

The Rams went on to win their next two MAC Silver contests, and at press time they were 7-3-2 overall and 2-1 in division play.

“Some of my players have played for me since their freshman year, and they’re seniors now,” Waidknecht said. “So for them to walk out this season with never not finishing in first place would be pretty good. I have five seniors on my team, so I really thought that Clawson game would be played with a little more urgency and drive because they would want it. So now we’re just gearing up (to) hopefully beat Clawson the next game (Oct. 8).”

At press time, New Haven High was in first place in the MAC Silver at 3-0. The Rams play the Rockets at 5 p.m. Oct. 3 on the road.

Junior Ava Wark and senior Madalynn Peace are Lamphere’s captains.

Wark doesn’t want this year to be the one when the program ends its string of consecutive MAC Silver championships.

“It’s a big deal because we’ve been winning for so long,” Wark said. “So it’s like you (want to) keep up the tradition.”

As much as Waidknecht would like another MAC Silver title for the program, for her, an even bigger deal would be coming away with Lamphere’s first district championship since 2011.

Since winning that title, the program has lost four district tournament matchups against Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day, and one apiece against Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep and Macomb Lutheran North.

This year’s district playoffs are scheduled to begin Nov. 9, and with the exception of Warren Regina, all the other teams in Lamphere’s district are public schools.

The other teams in the district are Center Line High, Hazel Park High and Warren Lincoln.

“It’s nice to have more public schools,” Waidknecht said. “So that’s our biggest goal. We haven’t won that (title) in years.”

Peace would like to add on to all the regular-season success Lamphere has had in recent years.

“Since it’s been so long, it would be the best thing for our team and our coach,” Peace said. “It’s like every year we get put into a district that’s really tough schools, and this year we have a chance.”

Waidknecht described the state of Lamphere’s program as great, and a big reason for that can be attributed to a kids camp she has been running in recent years.

“I’m starting to kind of reap those rewards because I’m seeing the kids start enjoying volleyball at a younger age, and they’re starting to go to other camps besides mine,” Waidknecht said. “They’re learning skills before they get to high school. I’m noticing the program really developing quite a bit and getting a lot more talent over the years.”

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