South Lake volleyball outlasts Center Line to claim third consecutive district title

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published November 1, 2018

 Members of the St. Clair Shores South Lake volleyball team pose Nov. 1 with their Division 2 district title trophy. The Cavaliers beat Center Line 3-2 to claim their third straight district championship.

Members of the St. Clair Shores South Lake volleyball team pose Nov. 1 with their Division 2 district title trophy. The Cavaliers beat Center Line 3-2 to claim their third straight district championship.

Photo by Jason Carmel Davis

ST. CLAIR SHORES — There’s a saying in sports that it’s tough to beat a team three times in one season, and that proved true in a Nov. 1 Division 2 district final between St. Clair Shores South Lake and Center Line High.

As foes in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division, the Cavaliers swept the Panthers in the regular season.

The squads battled in a hard-fought district final, with South Lake coming out on top 3-2 (18-25, 26-24, 25-13, 22-25, 15-10) to claim the program’s third straight district title.

The Cavs (33-34-1) advance to a regional semifinal set for 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at Harper Woods High against Ferndale High.

“This was a tough match,” South Lake coach Chris Blair said. “Us and Center Line know each other well. We played a five-game match with them earlier this season, so we knew this would be a battle. In the end, we made a few more plays than they did.”

The Cavaliers front line led the way, with senior middle hitter Marcayla Armstrong making a number of plays at the net throughout the match. South Lake’s defense played well too, led by senior Lilly Crachiola.

Blair said Armstrong’s play in the deciding game was the difference.

“I told (senior setter) Avery Salvia that whenever she gets the ball, just get it to (Armstrong) and let her hit it,” Blair said. “Marcayla is our playmaker. I’ve had her three years, and it’s been amazing to see her growth. She’s a great player.

"The difference, too, was we hit all our serves in the fifth game. We made eight service errors in game four and lost by three. Our service play was big in game five."

Armstrong, one of six seniors who have been a part of all three recent South Lake district titles, said this win is important for the program.

“Coming in and going out with the same group of girls, we wanted to end our season on a high note,” Armstrong said. “We wanted to do this for each other.”

Blair called this district title special, as the Cavs roster this season comprises just 10 players — four of whom are eligible to return next season.

“These girls gave up summer vacations and a lot of personal time because they wanted to have a special moment like this,” Blair said. “I’m so proud of this group. This is a great bunch of girls.”