LCN volleyball in sole possession of MAC Gold

By: Sue Teggart | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published October 19, 2011

 Macomb L’Anse Creuse North huddles up at center court before a match begins. This year, camaraderie and a team-first mentality are guiding LCN toward success. At press time, LCN was atop the MAC Gold standings at 8-0 and 18-12-4 overall.

Macomb L’Anse Creuse North huddles up at center court before a match begins. This year, camaraderie and a team-first mentality are guiding LCN toward success. At press time, LCN was atop the MAC Gold standings at 8-0 and 18-12-4 overall.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — To Gary Malburg, it’s not about the wins and losses.

Sure, it’s an easy thing for a coach to say when his team is sitting on a sparkling 8-0 record and in sole possession of the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division title at press time.

But for Malburg and his Macomb L’Anse Creuse North volleyball squad, this year wasn’t about standings or records, but restoring a competitive team.

“We talked about it right from the beginning, and said that if we’re going to change things around here, we have to break the cycle. They took that to heart,” Malburg said. “We’re going to focus every day. We’re going to compete every day in practice. Every ball has to be a competition. That attitude is why we can come back in games.”

Senior Jordan Peltier, a captain and three-year varsity member, said the team has made strides.

“For as far back as I can remember, everybody has always said that L’Anse Creuse volleyball is no good. We always rise to the occasion when we want to, but then we always fall right at the end. We couldn’t finish games,” Peltier said. “This year, we’re really breaking that tradition and showing everyone that we’re a brand-new team, a brand-new program.”

Much of the Crusaders’ success can be attributed to their veteran roster. Three seniors anchor the squad with seven juniors, five of whom have a year or two of varsity experience.

“A lot of it comes down to experience,” Malburg said. “There’s a lot of varsity experience on this team already. They have a lot of court sense. They don’t panic.

“The biggest thing in any sport is knowing how to slow the game down when it gets fast, and the more experience you have, the ability to know the angles, and the game’s so much slower even if it’s not.”

Malburg said a big part of the squad’s success is flexibility.

“This is the first year that I’ve had 12 girls that are talented enough to get on the court,” he said. “We go 6-on-6 in practice, and that gains us even more game experience. We’re tough on each other, and in years past, that wasn’t true. I didn’t have enough depth to push ourselves.”

The Crusaders have come a long way in the past four years, quietly climbing the MAC standings, posting 4-6 in 2008, 5-5 in 2009 and 6-4 in 2010.

“We started as a real young team my sophomore year, and since then, we’ve just been growing,” Peltier said. “We’re getting really good, obviously. The difference is how we practice. Our practices have been more focused. We’re really staying together as a team this year, and it’s really helped on the court. We’re working harder then ever.”

While expectations are high heading into the final stretch of league matches, Malburg is doing his best to make sure the team doesn’t get too high or low.

“We don’t want to make any game bigger that it is,” Malburg said. “If we start worrying about wins and losses, and winning the league, it just adds pressure we just don’t need. We’re just taking it one game at a time.

“They’ve accomplished so much of what we already wanted to accomplish, which is being focused, bringing the energy and just being a team, that really I would not be disappointed in any way going forward.”
 

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