Stevenson volleyball captures MAC White championship

By: Sue Teggart | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published November 2, 2011

 The Utica Stevenson volleyball squad wrapped its season by capturing a MAC White championship. The Titians posted 9-1 on the season.

The Utica Stevenson volleyball squad wrapped its season by capturing a MAC White championship. The Titians posted 9-1 on the season.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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When asked about his volleyball program winning a Macomb Area Conference White Division championship, Utica Stevenson volleyball coach Paul Drdul said only one word: “achievement.”

“It was something we talked about as something we wanted to do, but we felt that if we were preparing ourselves every day for the playoffs that this would take care of itself,” Drdul said. “It’s good that we had some adversity along the road.”

The Titans, who began the league season strong at 17-0-2 overall, got used to the growing target on their backs — they didn’t drop a match all season until the final week of play.

“There was a lot of pressure to win our division, but having that really helped us out,” said senior captain Hannah Konnie about the pressure. “The game that could have put us into winning (the) conference we lost against Ford II, but we took it as a blessing in disguise because we came out and won the next game.

“We realized that we have this (mentality) that we’re unbeatable, and we are beatable,” Konnie continued. “So losing that game helped put things into perspective, that we have to work harder, and we did and won our conference.”

Drdul said the Titans learned a lot about themselves in their season journey.

“This team last year was a young team, and it was a team that had to go through the growing pains that a lot of teams here in the past hadn’t had to,” Drdul said. “I think all of the things we learned last year helped us and motivated us as a team this year. They came in focused from the beginning.

“We wanted to improve every day, and it got to a point this year where we exceeded our expectations, and instead of hunting the team to beat, we became the team to beat,” Drdul continued. “We had to learn that everybody is going to come out and want to beat you.”

Leaving a legacy
For the Titans, winning the division meant more than collecting another piece of hardware to decorate their trophy case. It was their chance to leave a lasting imprint on the volleyball program.

“We’ve been working so hard, some of us for two years and some of us for three. This is our last year, and we want to leave a legacy,” said Konnie. “That’s our motto this year, ‘Leave a legacy.’ We just want to be remembered for working hard and improving and winning.”

“There are a lot of seniors on the team, and winning the division was our last chance to show all of us have, and not just the seniors but the whole team,” senior Megan Saigh added. “We’re all about the team. We play for each other.”

Drdul thinks the Titans’ legacy rests in their hard work and camaraderie.

“I think the legacy this team is going to leave is that talent doesn’t win out,” Drdul said. “I don’t mean to insult them when I say this, but this group wasn’t the most talented collectively that I’ve had. But what makes them successful are all of the things that have nothing to do with the game of volleyball — hard work, determination, being coachable and having good leadership. Because of hard work, they had success.

“It’s been really easy to coach them and really fun to coach them because of that.”

In districts, the Titans received a first-round bye and play the winner of the match between Utica High and Utica Ford II in a semifinal at 5 p.m. Nov. 2 at Stevenson.

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