Regardless of how the Alpena Community College volleyball team fares this season, one thing is sure: The Lumberjacks won't be going down without a fight.
"You're going to see a more aggressive, more disciplined, more intense group of young ladies who have a greater desire and passion to win every point," co-head coach John Dietlin said. "They're not going to be content, they're going to push at every juncture and strive to do the best they possibly can and whatever happens they'll accept because they know they've done the best they possibly can."
This season 11 players will suit up for the Lumberjacks with the roster nearly a dead-even mix of freshman and sophomores. Dietlin and co-head coach Sarah Parsons are excited about this year's squad because of its passion and desire to change the culture of a program that's hungry for a winning season.
News Photo by James Andersen
The 2012-13 Alpena Community College volleyball team is: front: Mandy Williams, LeAnn Strzelecki, Courtney Holmes, Brittany Bell, Ally Burley and Lindsay Ponik; back: coach Jon Dietlin, Whitney Frazier, Danielle Krupp, Olivia Cote, Leah Wallis and Melissa “Birdie” Carroll and coach Sarah Parsons.
"I feel that they actually want to be here. In past years, it's like they don't want to be here or once they get here it's like, "Oh, I don't want to be here any more,'" Parsons said. "This group of girls seem like they want to really win and be here and try and be part of the team and make a winning season instead of a losing one."
In the front row, sophomores Leah Wallis, Melissa Carroll and Allison Burley return to form the basis of Alpena's attack and they'll be joined by freshmen Danielle Krupp (Mio), Whitney Frazier and Amanda Williams. Wallis has already shown some strong signs of play up front, tallying 11 kills in the Lumberjacks' opening two matches with St. Clair.
In the back row, freshman Courtney Holmes will anchor the defense at libero, a position she held last year for Alpena High School. Sophomores LeAnn Strzelecki (Posen), Lindsay Ponik (Posen) and Olivia Cote will join her in the back row and Ponik and Cot will also serve as setters. Freshman Brittany Bell will also play as a setter.
Though Alpena lost its opening two matches, the Lumberjacks are feeling confident as they set their aim toward the MCCAA Eastern Conference title. Dietlin said based about what he's seen in terms of rosters, most of the teams in the seven-team conference will likely be chasing Oakland, who was ranked No. 2 in a national preseason poll and is currently ranked tenth in a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll.
"Oakland always has a strong team," Dietlin said. "The conference is young, there's mismatch in the middle and it'll be a matter of who comes out of it on a weekly basis, who survives the battles every day is the team that's going to come out and challenge Oakland."
The Lumberjacks will host Schoolcraft today beginning at 11 a.m. They will also be at home on Oct. 5 against Macomb.