2018-09-08 / Sports

Young Laker Volleyball Team Shows Promise This Year

By Kevin R. Hess


Playing for the Lakers on the 2018 Mackinac Island volleyball team are (front, from left): Ella Cowell, Katie Burt, Ariana Pereny, Brooke Dziobak, Makayla Rickley; (back) Coach Jennifer Schrader, Hannah Styburski, Nora Bailey, Clara Chambers, Mabel Styburski, Izzy Nitzschke, Ava Sehoyan, and Assistant Coach Lisa Dziobak. Playing for the Lakers on the 2018 Mackinac Island volleyball team are (front, from left): Ella Cowell, Katie Burt, Ariana Pereny, Brooke Dziobak, Makayla Rickley; (back) Coach Jennifer Schrader, Hannah Styburski, Nora Bailey, Clara Chambers, Mabel Styburski, Izzy Nitzschke, Ava Sehoyan, and Assistant Coach Lisa Dziobak. With no seniors and just one junior, the Mackinac Island Lakers volleyball team is young, but has a bright future. Consisting largely of freshmen and sophomores, the Lakers nucleus will have a few years to grow together as players and into Coach Jennifer Schrader’s system. She is in her third season heading up the volleyball program and is pleased with the progress her players have shown. The Lakers failed to win a game in 2016, then recorded 10 wins in 2017.

“We certainly have work to do, but I’ve been impressed so far,” she said. “Players are still learning and I’m optimistic that they will grow into strong players and a strong team.”

Sophomores Ella Cowell and Brooke Dziobak have been the goto leaders from the start, said Coach Schrader, both on and off the court. Both girls have a strong work ethic and desire to see personal and team growth. Junior Hannah Styburski is the lone upperclassman and has shown leadership, as well.

“They provide the leadership on the court that I can’t give from the sidelines,” said Coach Schrader.

The team features three seventh graders, Katie Burt, Isabella Nitzschke, and Makayla Rickley, who are new to the sport. Mackinac Island is unique compared to other schools because of its small size and need to incorporate junior high students into many of its varsity sports. The age gap can be frustrating, especially for older players, but Coach Schrader said they are patient and good at teaching the younger players.

“It was clearly very overwhelming for them at first, but they are committed to learning the game and getting better,” she said. “Makayla is a natural athlete and has strong skills in serving and passing already.”

The ultimate goal for every team, coach, and player is to win, but Coach Schrader likes to take a broad view of her team, looking for game by game, week by week improvement, with the team playing its best as it enters postseason play. Prior to the season, she had each of the players write down some individual goals, and they will revisit them during the season to evaluate how they are progressing toward them.

“As long as players are growing individually along the way, the team will grow, as well,” said Coach Schrader.

The Lakers opened their season Monday, August 20, with a home match against Whittemore-Prescott. The team won the first set but lost the match, three sets to one. Despite the loss, the coach was impressed with the team’s play and is confident that the young Lakers will be a competitive squad all season.

“We’re building for the future, but I feel good about where the team is already,” she said.

Rounding out the Lakers roster is eighth-grader Nora Bailey, freshmen Brenna Bazinau, Clara Chambers, Mabel Styburski, and sophomores Ariana Pereny and Ava Sehoyan.

Mackinac Island competes in the Northern Lights League with Beaver Island, Maplewood Baptist Academy, Ojibwe Charter, Paradise, Munising Baptist, and Wilson Nah Tah Wahsh (Hannahville). Beaver Island is a traditional island rival that the Lakers are always excited to play. The games have a different sense of energy, said Coach Schrader, and the players seem to be more serious and focused when the two teams play. The Lakers will host Beaver Island Friday, September 28, and Saturday, September 29.

Coach Schrader is also looking forward to playing Maplewood Baptist Academy to see how her team stacks up against one of the better teams in their conference. The Lakers lost twice to the Black Bears last year, but played a close match in the second contest. The team traveled to Kinross Wednesday, September 5, and will host the Black Bears Thursday, October 11.

“Maplewood is always strong, and that second match showed the girls that they could do it,” she said. “They should be competitive matches.”

Mackinac Island Lakers 2018 Schedule

September

7 at Hannahville (7:30 p.m.)

8 at Hannahville (8:30 a.m.)

11 Atlanta (5 p.m.)

12 Paradise (5 p.m.)

18 Munising Baptist (6 p.m.)

21 Ojibwe Charter (7:30 p.m.)

22 Ojibwe Charter (8:30 a.m.)

25 at Atlanta (4 p.m.)

28 Beaver Island (7:30 p.m.)

29 Beaver Island (8:30 a.m.)

October

6 Mackinac Island Tourney (10 a.m.)

10 at Paradise (5 p.m.)

11 Maplewood Baptist (4:30 p.m.)

20 NLL Tourney at Hannahville

24 Petoskey St. Michael (4 p.m.)

29 MHSAA Districts at Mackinac Island

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