Stevenson volleyball remains determined

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 20, 2019

 Sterling Heights Stevenson’s Riley Kraiza serves during a Sept. 18 practice. The Titans won division, district and regional titles last season.

Sterling Heights Stevenson’s Riley Kraiza serves during a Sept. 18 practice. The Titans won division, district and regional titles last season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Last season, the Sterling Heights Stevenson volleyball team brought the program its first regional championship in 28 years.

Even with a number of players now in expanded roles, the expectations for the squad have not lessened, according to coach Eric Wachterhauser.

“We know we’re going to (get) everyone’s best game, and we’ll need to bring our best night in and night out,” said Wachterhauser, who is in his second year leading the team. “As far as team goals are concerned, we’d love to repeat last year’s conference finish and playoff run, but we know there’s a lot of work to be done to put those goals within our reach.”

The Titans will run up against some new competition, moving from the Macomb Area Conference White Division to the MAC Red. Along with Stevenson, the MAC Red includes Macomb Dakota, Utica Eisenhower, Romeo High, Marysville High and New Baltimore Anchor Bay.

Wachterhauser — whose team was 15-7-1 overall and 1-1 in the MAC Red at press time — said playing in the MAC Red doesn’t lend itself to any off nights.

“It’s cliché, but we have to bring our ‘A-game’ every minute of every game, or we won’t be successful in this division,” Wachterhauser said. “As we improve our mental toughness, we should be able to hold our own this season, but the potential for a roller coaster ride is real with a young team.”

Stevenson is not young in terms of age. The Titans roster, though, doesn’t have a lot of experience. Wachterhauser said the group has taken its lumps early, but the group is coachable and can learn new concepts on the fly.

Having a consistent setter is a great strength, the Stevenson coach said. Senior Coral Higgins has held down the position for three years. Her leadership, ability to run the floor, and defensive skills are a great weapon, Wachterhauser said.

Higgins is not alone in leading the Titans. Junior outside hitters Riley Kraiza and Brianna Kopp, along with senior middle hitter Eva Mannino and junior libero Nicole Sheen, have all made major contributions.

Stevenson has missed some of its players who graduated from last year’s team, including all three back row starters. A new crop of defensive players, Wachterhauser said, will need to cut their teeth quickly.

The coach is confident that the team can make some noise this season.

“Their desire to be a great team, along with the positive atmosphere in the gym every day, will allow us to accomplish a lot in our practice sessions,” he said. “Providing we can learn to really showcase our talents in games this season, we will have a lot of fun.”

Stevenson’s next match is against Utica Eisenhower at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at home.

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