Rochester Hills Stoney Creek volleyball coach Ross Talbott huddles with his team during a timeout in a match earlier this season. The Cougars won the Oakland Activities Association Red Division in 2018 and finished with a 42-7-2 overall record.

Rochester Hills Stoney Creek volleyball coach Ross Talbott huddles with his team during a timeout in a match earlier this season. The Cougars won the Oakland Activities Association Red Division in 2018 and finished with a 42-7-2 overall record.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Stoney Creek volleyball season ends in regional final, championships along the way

By: Jacob Herbert | Rochester Post | Published November 16, 2018

ROCHESTER HILLS — After a postseason run where it didn’t drop a single set until the regional final, the Rochester Hills Stoney Creek volleyball team was defeated by Lake Orion High 3-0 Nov. 8 at home and was officially eliminated from the playoffs.

The Cougars dropped the first two sets 25-18 and 25-16, respectively. After leading 24-20 at one point in the third set, the Dragons pushed Stoney to the brink, eventually winning 31-29.

“We ran into a good team,” Cougars coach Ross Talbott said. “They were playing on all cylinders, and we made some key mistakes at key points.”

Earlier in the playoffs, Stoney captured its second straight district title, beating Macomb Area Conference Red Division champion Utica Eisenhower in straight sets. Talbott said that was a huge win for his team. Ike had been dealing with injuries all season long, but the team was finally back and healthy just in time for the match.

“They’ve got probably three Division 1 (college) players on that team,” Talbott said of Ike. “That team is stronger than they look on paper just because they were healthy. We knew going into that match that it was a different team than their record. That could have easily been a top 10 team if they’re healthy all year.”

Even though Stoney exited the playoffs much sooner than it would have liked, Talbott said he and his team still have a lot in which to be proud.

The Cougars captured their first division title in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division with a 7-0 record. The team finished at 42-7-2 overall and placed within the top 10 in the state.

Talbott cited his seniors setting a tone for success at the beginning of the season as one of the main reasons for those accomplishments.

“Their leadership,” Talbott said on what he’ll miss most about his seniors. “Three of them are captains. Between them, they have 10 years of varsity experience. I think they’ve really changed the attitude of this program and set the bar pretty high.”

Those seniors are Sara Thompson, Nina Billotto, Stephanie Smith, Reema Gowda and Ava Menzo.

With five players graduating at the end of this school year, the Stoney roster is going to look somewhat different next season. However, Talbott said he expects the team to pick up right where it left off.

The Cougars will have a plethora of girls step into more prominent roles next season.

Among the players are Katie Yatooma and Ashley Gajdzik.

Ella Markevics, who spent the year playing behind Smith, will be big for the team next year as well, according to her coach.

Another player on the list is Halle Liefers. Talbott said she has the ability to do anything on the team, but he will probably play her as a defensive specialist.

“We look forward to next year,” Talbott said. “We’ve got some big things coming up as well. Even though those seniors — we’ll miss them dearly — we’ve got some kids that can step up, and we can hopefully get the same results, if not more.”