GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Lake Orion climbing back to top 10 territory, eyes OAA Red Division title | North Oakland Sports

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: Lake Orion climbing back to top 10 territory, eyes OAA Red Division title

| October 10, 2016 | Comments (0)



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LAKE ORION — Over the past decade, Lake Orion has consistently fielded a girls volleyball team ranked inside the Class A top 20.

That trend has more than continued this season.

The Dragons, who finished as the runner-up to state powerhouse North Branch at the Mt. Morris Invitational on October 1, carried a respectable 31-9-1 record into the first week of October and are improving at a fast rate.

“I would say that we have improved a lot even since the beginning of the season,” admitted Tony Scavarda, Lake Orion’s third-year head coach who was an assistant for two years prior to that. “We had some tough losses to teams who I feel if we played now, we’d be a lot more competitive against. A lot of our losses were in tournaments early in the season. And our losses were to some reply good teams.”

Lake Orion was listed as honorable mention in the MIVCA state rankings all season before finally climbing to No. 9 in Class A the first week of October thanks to its stellar play as of late. The Dragons have learned from those early-season defeats and have used them as a stepping stone to put this squad back into contention. 

Lake Orion currently sits atop of the OAA Red Division with a perfect 5-0 record with conference games coming up against Birmingham Seaholm and West Bloomfield.

“We are in position now to win the league. But we can’t overlook anybody,” said Scaveda. “We beat Clarkston, but we can’t underestimate a team like Seaholm. They shared the league with us last season and they always have good players.”

In other words, Lake Orion is in the driver’s seat but nothing is etched in stone.

Last season, Lake Orion finished 61-9-1 overall, shared the OAA-Red crown with Seaholm and Rochester Stoney Creek (all three finished 6-1 in league play) and captured a district championship before falling in five games in the regional semifinals to eventual state runner-up Romeo. This season, Lake Orion is in the same district as Clarkston and if the Dragons can advance, would likely face other ranked teams in the regional rounds.

“In order to make a run, there would be some very good teams we would have to beat,” said Scavarda. “If we were to win our district, then teams like Romeo, Stoney Creek, (Utica) Eisenhower, (Macomb) Dakota, (New Baltimore) Anchor Bay could be there in the regional. If will be a tough road if we make it out of our district.”

The Dragons already own an exciting five-game thriller over long-time nemesis and arch rival Clarkston (27-25, 18-25, 24-26, 25-21, 15-13). In that marathon match, the Dragons trailed 13-8 in Game 5 before closing with an improbable 7-0 run to remain in first place all alone. Only Clarkston has a realistic chance of tying for the league crown if the Dragons are to stumble down the stretch, as the rest of the eight-school division has at least two league losses apiece.

This year’s squad is paced by senior libero Lindsay Wightman, who has already committed to Division I Oakland University. Senior setter/outside hitter Leah Kalugar and senior middle blocker Mallorie Berriman are the other tri-captains and the team’s leaders on and off the court.

Junior defensive specialist Illyria Kalaj has emerged as a pleasant surprise with her feisty play in the back row. Sophomore outside hitter/setter Wren Macaulay

junior middle blocker Becca Zelmanski and senior outside-hitter Danielle Sargent

senior outside hitter Sarah Kelly, junior middle blocker Brittney Tarkanyi and senior defensive specialist Andie Findley have also become major contributors to the Dragons success story this season.

Lake Orion graduated six players from the main rotation last season.

“We lost some very good players, but I think we have some very good leaders on this team and a lot of players are contributing,” said Scavarda. “We are starting to come together.”

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