Lutheran North volleyball wins division title, eyes deep playoff run

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published October 18, 2019

 Macomb Lutheran North’s Savannah Schwarzwalder sets up a teammate during  a match earlier  this season.

Macomb Lutheran North’s Savannah Schwarzwalder sets up a teammate during a match earlier this season.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — At the outset of the season, Macomb Lutheran North senior Kennedy Dulmage made it clear she and her teammates had set several goals and that they would work very hard to reach them.

To this point, the team has hit each of those goals, with a good shot at more to come.

A win Oct. 16 over Riverview Gabriel Richard clinched North the Catholic High School League AA Division title. It’s the program’s first since 2015. At press time, the Mustangs were 25-3 overall and 7-0 in the division.

An undefeated run through league play was a goal coach Jessica Lancaster and her players set. North’s strong play to this point can be attributed to what Lancaster at the start of the season called scrappy play.

“Playing that way has certainly played a part in our success so far this season,” said Lancaster, in her second season leading the team, “but I also attribute it to our team’s ability to play smart, consistent and composed.”

The Mustangs have performed well in a number of areas, Lancaster said. The team is disciplined and mentally tough. North also excels at controlling the ball during matches and communicating on the court.

Leading the way for the Mustangs is senior outside hitter Dulmage, who next season will play at Oakland University. Dulmage, previously a libero for three seasons, leads North with 259 kills.

“(Dulmage) is definitely the (leader) of our team,” Lancaster said. “She’s clearly our best defender as well. She’s just an outstanding all-around player.”

Dulmage isn’t alone, though.

North senior setter Katie Petersdorf, who stands 5-foot-10, has led the team by initiating the offense and serving as an offensive threat, Lancaster said. Senior outside hitter Abby Thoms is the heartbeat of the team, the coach added, while also noting that senior middle hitter Savannah Schwarzwalder and juniors Madisyn Link, Kiley Comiskey and Liv Schienke have also made great contributions.

Lancaster said those players have led a team that battles until the bitter end.

“We focus a lot on keeping unforced errors down,” Lancaster said. “We make our opponents beat us with hitting and blocking. The three teams we lost to this season had much bigger guns than our squad, but even in those losses, the total point differential was under 10 points. We put up a fight and never say die.”

Lancaster hopes her team keeps that attitude when the playoffs begin Nov. 4. The Mustangs play in a Division 2 district hosted by Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. The field comprises Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, Clawson High and Prep.

The Mustangs meet Country Day at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4.

“Winning a district title would be huge, especially considering the district we fall into,” said Lancaster, looking to lead North to its first district title since 2012. “But we’re keeping ourselves focused on achieving one goal at a time.

“The team is dedicated and determined to make this a memorable season, which isn’t all about winning, but also about making memories simply as teammates and friends.”

North’s next match is against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett at 6:15 p.m. Oct. 24 on the road.

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