By Sue Moore
The Schoolcraft Varsity volleyball team started its 2019 season off strong with a 10-0 record, collecting two tournament championships toward the end of August.
At Gull Lake, the Eagles went 6-0 on the day, defeating Edwardsburg, Three Rivers, Battle Creek Lakeview and Niles. The following day, they headed to Western Michigan Christian where they finished 4-0, defeating Traverse City St. Francis, Covenant Christian, Western Michigan Christian and Kalamazoo Christian.
What’s even more exciting for Coach Erin Onken is the way her team is winning so early in the season. “Our defense is impressive right now. We’re playing balls that we didn’t make attempts for last year. The girls recognize the difference and that’s an exciting atmosphere to be part of. The vibe in the gym is great and everyone’s here for the same reason, to make this team better. It shows in the way we’re approaching practice.”
The Eagles, who won the SAC Valley division last year and a District Championship, return nine players from last year’s roster along with six starters. Seniors and captains Madi Ballett and Andelyn Simkins have been a huge part of the early success of this team.
Simkins led the way in August with 75 digs, 125 kills and 13 aces, while Ballett added 47 digs, 25 kills and 5 aces. “Stats are one way to measure players contribution to your team. What’s important to me is how Madi and Andelyn interact with their teammates. They’re constantly encouraging teammates, coaching each other and bringing enthusiasm to training. That positivity is contagious. And when you see your leaders acting that way, its powerful and you want to be part of that,” Coach Onken said.
A three-year starter, setter Kayla Onken shares the tri-captain position this season with Ballett and Simkins. Juniors Maggie Morris and Anna Schuppel return in the middle, libero Kelby Goldschmeding and right-side Allie Goldschmeding all return this year with significant playing experience for the Eagles.
Seniors Savannah McDonald and Dani Warnaar and three newcomers, junior Lilli Curtis, sophomore Sophie Ridge and freshman Abbi Curtis, fill the roster.
The Eagles play Thursday September 5 at home against Gobles at 6:30 p.m.