Rochester Hills Stoney Creek volleyball celebrates a point in a match against Troy High earlier in the season. At press time, the Cougars were 39-6-2 and ranked fifth overall in the state.

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek volleyball celebrates a point in a match against Troy High earlier in the season. At press time, the Cougars were 39-6-2 and ranked fifth overall in the state.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Stoney Creek volleyball captures first OAA Red crown

By: Jacob Herbert | Rochester Post | Published October 30, 2018

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ROCHESTER HILLS — In early September, just before Rochester Hills Stoney Creek volleyball played its first Oakland Activities Association Red Division match against Troy High, coach Ross Talbott laid out a clear and concise goal for his team. He wanted the Cougars to win the OAA Red title.

Stoney Creek had tied for the division title in years past, but it had never won it outright until this season. The Cougars were perfect in the Red, going 7-0 in one of the state’s toughest divisions.

“Real good accomplishment for the girls,” Talbott said. “They’ve been practicing and playing really hard. It’s a nice accomplishment for the program as well. These girls are focused. I knew going into that league it would be tough, but we were pretty strong.”

Talbott said the reason behind the OAA Red being regarded as the toughest division in the state is the size of the schools. With a larger talent pool, there are a lot more kids playing club volleyball. Talbott also estimated that each team in the Red has at least one future college player on its roster.

His players echoed that statement.

“I definitely think it’s the athletic ability of a lot of the people we play,” four-year varsity player Sara Thompson said. “A lot of the girls are going to Division 1 schools with full-ride scholarships — they’re amazing. With the level of the competition that the teams bring, nobody slacks off in any game, and so it’s never an easy night.”

Despite the slew of formidable opponents in the division, the Cougars navigated their way with ease, at least on paper.

The Cougars only went to five games once in a match in OAA play. That was Oct. 2 against Lake Orion High.

“It just shows our girls are ready (on) game nights,” Talbott said. “When you’re beating OAA teams three sets to nothing every single night, that just shows that these girls are focused, they’re ready to go and they’re very talented.”

Senior hitter Nina Bilotto, who will be attending West Liberty University next year to play volleyball, said beating Lake Orion in five sets, where the last three sets were decided by two points, gave the team a boost to compete down the stretch.

“We were super hyped up for that game,” she said. “That gave us a lot of confidence, because we played them in tournaments before and they beat us every time. That was the first time that we beat them, and it was when it counted.”

That loss for Lake Orion would ultimately end up being the difference in the race for the Red Division crown. The Dragons finished league play at 6-1.

Thompson and Bilotto are two players that Talbott said have really stepped up and led the team this season. Others include hitter Kate Stration, who just signed with Cornell University; and underclassmen Sydney Tomlak and Ainsley Guse both had outstanding seasons as well, according to the coach.

Talbott said Guse won the team some games with her length alone.

With one accomplishment behind them, the Cougars are now on to the next one: winning a second straight district championship. Stoney hosts a Division 1 district tournament this year, which Thompson said will be a plus for her team.

“Volleyball is not one of the sports everyone watches the most, but our school does show up a lot more when it’s in our home gym,” she said. “You can see it in our play. We’ll still be playing well, but it’s not very high energy. Right when the students come in, all of our faces are lifted up and it’s a lot more exciting and positive out here.”

After receiving a first-round bye, the Cougars take on either Rochester Adams or Romeo High at 7 p.m. Nov. 1. For nightly scores, visit candgnews.com/sports.

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