BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Cupcakes awaited the Clarkston Freshman Volleyball players as they finished celebrating a huge feat for any team – they had gone undefeated during their season with 116 wins, Oct. 25.
“It’s amazing,” said Daneen Kincaid, head coach. “I have never heard of a volleyball team doing this. Other sports where you only have eight or 10 competition it is still quite an achievement, but to step out on the court 116 times and never lose a game is unheard of.”
Kelly Pinner, head coach for the varsity team, agreed it was unheard of. “I know we have a bigger school and a bigger program and that helps us but to do that 116 games in a role – that’s solid performance,” she added.
The girls finished the season with the Year End Classic, Oct. 22, and a quad at home against Rochester Adams, Walled Lake Northern and Berkley on Oct. 25.
“The last tournament they were focused,” Kincaid said. “They had their game faces on. They knew they had business to attend to and they wanted to get it done. They had some pretty strong hurdles to get over in that tournament.”
The girls opened the tournament against Romeo and won 25-21 and 25-15. They went on to Macomb Dakota next who was undefeated in match play but had lost some individual games. They defeated the Cougars, 25-17, 25-7.
“It gave the girls a lot of confidence to know we can do this,” Kincaid said.
The next opponent for Clarkston was St. Mary’s Catholic Central, one of their toughest opponents they had faced earlier in the season at Beast of the East.
“We knew they were a good program,” said Kincaid. “When we faced them again they were the first team and only team to score more than 22 points on us. We were down at one point in the first game, 23-20, and the girls were focused. They refused to lose. They ended up winning it 26-24. Then, won second game 25-19. By far that was our greatest challenge. After that there was no way no team was going to beat them.”
She added it was one of her favorite moments during the season.
“They aren’t used to being behind,” Kincaid said. “They could have easily crumbled under the pressure. But they stuck to knowing their skills and know they were capable of turning it.
The Lady Wolves went on to win the tournament with wins over Walled Lake Central, Stoney Creek and Troy for their fifth tournament win.
The girls finished the season with winning their home quad but before finishing undefeated they were nervous.
“You don’t want to go 110 games and then lose one,” Kincaid said about how the girls were feeling. “The second game against Adams our girls nerves got to them. We ended up winning it 25-21. It shows how volleyball is such an emotional game. After they played Adams we had some good service runs in our competitions. The girls just wanted to finish the job they came to do.”
They defeated Adams 25-12 and 25-21; Walled Lake Northern, 25-13, 25-9; and Berkley, 25-12, 25-3.
Another favorite moment for Kincaid was the Lady Wolves beating Lake Orion three times in the season.
“It is hard to beat a team three times and they beat them convincingly,” she said.
Kincaid explained the team, made of 14 players, was hard-working and focused.
“They were a treasure to work with,” she smiled. “The biggest thing for them is they played as a team. I told them at the beginning of the season ‘we are only as strong as our weakest player,’ and they worked hard to make sure everybody’s bar was raised up high and everyone was encouraged. They really embraced the team concept – to me that’s what made them successful.”
Kincaid added she knew during tryouts the team was going to be good
“Jeff, my husband, and Pat Dunham, good friend of mine, the three of us sat down after tryouts and said as coaches we have to step up our game – these girls are already achieving what normal freshman teams do at the end of their season,” she said. “We had to dig a little deeper in our coaching skills to make sure we challenged them enough and taught them higher level skills. Our goal was to treat them like a JV team and expect JV skills out of them. They rose to the challenge. I think that’s why the opponent scores were so low. They were basically playing up to us as a JV level team.”
Many of the players Daneen and Jeff recognized from a community program they had for fifth graders.
“They just loved the sport and couldn’t get enough playing and progressed to middle school ball and club ball. A lot of these girls have played together for many years,” she said.
Daneen added during her seven seasons as freshman coach her teams have averaged a percentage of 75 wins during the season.
“It is a testament to how strong the Clarkston Volleyball program is as a whole,” she said, adding the girls know moving on they know they have a lot of work to do.
“They know as freshman they have to step up and work hard to continue winning as JV and hopefully make the varsity court,” she said. “Having a group of girls who refuse to lose will serve our program very well.”
Pinner added it will help the program.
“Hopefully it gives those girls the drive and motivation so as they move through they know what it is like to be successful and are still hungry for it and want to continue that path of success,” she said.
The 2016 Clarkston Volleyball team is Abigail Barta, Jessica Buscher, Hannah Cady, Morgan Dolan, Cali Ehrenberger, Courtney Farrugia, Jordan Klokeid, Natalie Luba, Jordan Newblatt, Nicole Nickelson, Lauren Schoenherr, Madeleine Smith, Abby Tolmei and Sarah White.