ACC volleyball team hoping athleticism, talent leads to more wins

News Photo by James Andersen Members of the Alpena Community College volleyball team from left to right include: back: Taylor Livingtson, Jenelle Carpenter, Shelby Seaver and Maya Myers; middle: Brianna Kuffel, Aleah Holmes, Kayanna Dean and Jozie Appelgren; front: Alexis Mutschler, Lauren LaFleche, Kiana Wodek and Kaylee Krussell.

Alpena Community College volleyball coach Sarah Parsons has had her team in place for nearly six months.

On Saturday, she’ll finally get to see what the Lumberjacks can do.

ACC opens the season today with games at 1 and 3 p.m. against Schoolcraft at Park Arena.

ACC returns just three players from last season to its 12-player roster, but Parsons made a point to recruit athletic local talent, which she hopes will make the Lumberjacks more competitive against their Michigan Community College Athletic Association Eastern Conference rivals.

The Lumberjacks have plenty of talent, but Parsons is anxious to see how her team plays together on the floor while adapting to the faster pace of the college game.

“From what I’ve seen in the first week and a half of practice, we are a very athletic team. We know how to play volleyball, it’s just a matter of coming together and playing as a team,” Parsons said. “They all come from different high schools, so they all use different things. It’s just a matter of (relearning) stuff and doing it the way ACC runs it.”

Parsons didn’t waste any time when it came to recruiting this season. She knew which athletes she wanted and by April she had her team put together.

“I started recruiting early because I like to get stuff done and out of the way and know that I have my team rather than wait til the last minute,” Parsons said. “I knew that I had my team about five months ago.”

Alpena should have plenty of power offensively with freshmen Shelby Seaver and Taylor Livingston holding down the middle of the Lumberjacks’ front row. Seaver, a 5-foot-11 hitter from Alpena, and Livingston, a 5-foot-9 hitter from Alcona, are two of the tallest players on the team and were offensive leaders for their high schools teams last season.

On the outside, sophomores Kaylee Krussell (Pellston) and Maya Myers (Big Rapids) and freshmen Jenelle Carpenter (Alcona) and Brianna Kuffel (Posen) are in the mix.

Regardless of who plays up front, all of Alpena’s hitters will benefit from having freshman setter Aleah Holmes (Cheboygan) to play with. Last year, Krussell served as the team’s setter and played well, despite it not being her natural position.

“Last year I had to make a setter; this year I’ve actually got one,” Parsons said.

In the back row, freshman Alexis Mutschler (Hillman) will anchor the line at libero and will be joined by sophomore Lauren LaFleche (Alpena) and freshmen Kiana Wodek (Petoskey), Jozie Appelgren (Hillman) and Kayanna Dean (Onaway).

As she begins her 13th season as ACC’s coach, Parsons is looking forward to seeing what her team can do. She’ll be helped out this season by new assistant coach Craig Gerow.

In preparation for the season, the Lumberjacks have been scrimmaging against local players on Thursdays to get used to a new way of playing. Parsons said the plays ACC runs are similar to what her players ran in high school, but the plays have different names now and ACC’s hitters will have to adapt to playing with a new setter.

If it all comes together, Parsons is confident the Lumberjacks will be able to do some good things this season.

“I think we’re going to have a good season this year. We’re going to be able to compete with the teams downstate and they seem to mesh well together,” Parsons said. “I hope to come out with a win. That would get things off to a good start.”