BY DAN STICKRADT
ROCHESTER HILLS — Despite advancing the Final Four and finishing as the Class A state runner-up a year ago, Lake Orion’s volleyball season of dreams did not include a league title.
The Dragons have earmarked a conference championship among its long list of goals this season.
Lake Orion opened up Oakland Activities Association Red Division play Thursday with a 3-0 sweep of host Rochester Adams. The Dragons, second in the league last season, posted wins of 25-13, 25-15 and 25-22 to set the tone.
“I really like the way we have been playing overall,” said first-year Lake Orion head coach Ross Talbott. “We did graduate eight players but we had a lot of kids just waiting in the wings. And our JV team is undefeated right now.
The Dragons graduated eight of its 17 players off last season’s roster but the talent pool is far from running dry. Lake Orion is 20-6-0, ranked fourth in the state and has won a pair of tournaments this season. The Highlanders found out why.
Displaying great depth, Lake Orion simply wore the Highlanders down in a match that last a mere hour.
“I really like our depth. We’re really 17 deep. We play everybody and we don’t have much of a dropoff,” said Talbott. “We don’t have one dominant player. But we are a lot of very good players in the back row that play solid defense and a lot of hitters that are getting the job done. I thought we got a lot tonight from several players.”
Adams (8-13-1) only led twice on the whole night — 1-0 to start Game 1 and 10-9 during Game 3. The Highlanders were gained confidence and were competitive in the final two games after being non-effective in the opener.
“We’re still really young. We have two freshmen and two sophomores on varsity,” said Adams coach Raey Zoellner. “We have a pattern of starting out a little tentative and we did that again tonight. But we started to play with a lot more energy. We have some good athletes. It’s just getting these young players to believe that they can play with some of the better teams in the state.”
Adams held even with Lake Orion for most of Game 3, eventually drawing even at 20-20 in the final set. Lake Orion closed with a 5-2 run, with Kayla Rockey slam down the middle ended the match.
Sophie Murdock had 22 kills, Rockey added seven kills Hannah Murdock followed with six kills for the Dragons. Gabby Kalugar 23 digs and Rachel Giwa had 18 assists for Lake Orion.
Jenny Gerlach slammed nine kills and Marissa Ratzenberger chipped in with 19 digs for Adams.
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