Royal Oak welcomes new volleyball coach

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published September 4, 2019

 Royal Oak High senior Emma Brewster looks to spike the ball  in a recent tournament hosted  by Macomb Dakota. Brewster  was named captain of  this year’s Ravens squad.

Royal Oak High senior Emma Brewster looks to spike the ball in a recent tournament hosted by Macomb Dakota. Brewster was named captain of this year’s Ravens squad.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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As the Royal Oak High volleyball team enters a brand-new season, it will do so with a brand-new coach.

“We are extremely excited about our volleyball program under the direction of coach (Ciara) Schultz,” Royal Oak Athletic Director Donald Watchowski said. “Her and her staff bring a high level of energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and experiences to Royal Oak athletics. In just a few short weeks, one can truly sense a strong foundation being built.”

A former Oakland University volleyball player, Schultz graduated in 2016 and took a job as the junior varsity coach at Walled Lake Central. From there, she moved to Novi High and was a member of the coaching staff when the Wildcats won the 2017 Class A state title.

Schultz spent last year coaching the Ravens freshman team before being promoted to coach of the varsity squad.

Schultz picked up on a few things during her coaching and playing days. There are tips and tricks that she plans to bring with her to her new job.

“I’ve been a volleyball player for a long time, and I was a collegiate volleyball player,” Schultz said. “I’ve always used the philosophy that we’re striving to be better every day, and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

Schultz is taking over a team that was swept by Birmingham Groves in a Division 1 district semifinal match last season. Though it’s early, the coach already sees positive growth in her new team.

“The group already is great,” Schultz said. “They come in and work hard. They come in early and they never really want to stop playing. It’s a fun experience to them.”

Senior captain Emma Brewster will be a key player for the Ravens this year. Brewster had recently been playing middle but was moved to the outside due to her strong and consistent play.

Royal Oak also has some young talent that was brought up from the JV team whom Schultz is excited to work with at the varsity level. Sophomores Jacie Walden and Delila Miller, a middle and libero, respectively, are two players who can contribute to the team’s success right away.

“I like that since they came in as freshmen, they were experienced,” Schultz said of her young players. “They played club volleyball, they are always in the gym improving. Even on the weekends, they want to get in the gym. I just don’t think it’s ever enough for them.”

Though the season is still young, the coach was able to get an early assessment of her team’s in-game play through a tournament that the Ravens participated in Aug. 24 at Macomb Dakota. Royal Oak had matches against Dakota, South Lyon East, Macomb Lutheran North and Birmingham Seaholm. 

When play at the tournament was all said and done, Schultz praised her team’s resilience, and she said that will be one of the team’s greatest strengths going forward.

As for ways she wants the team to get better, the coach admitted that the Ravens don’t have a lot of size. In order to combat that, she wants them to really hone in on defending.

“I am a firm believer that defense wins championships,” Schultz said. “We work on that in probably 90% of our practices with blocking and serve receive. We are a very young team, so I think getting them the reps and experience is going to pay off big time very quickly.”

As the Ravens get set to navigate through the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division, Schultz expects to finish near the top. The coach holds the team to a high standard and said the Ravens will always be aiming for the top.

Call Sports Writer Jacob Herbert at (586) 498-1062. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.

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