Four game win streak improves volleyball to 11-5

The Spartans hosted the Vikings at home Thursday night and picked up a win in two games. This, after a series of wins against Zumwalt East, North and West in the last week, puts the Spartans’ record at 11-5-2.

However, despite the team’s modest winning streak, the Spartans have fallen short of the conference title, which rests in Howell North’s hands after the two teams’ only regular season encounter two weeks ago.

For the first time this year, a conference tournament was not scheduled to determine the title. Instead, regular season games against conference opponents decided the title, where the team with the best record against the conference would be the winner.

Although both the Spartans and Knights had identical records with only one loss apiece, because the Spartans’ loss came head-to-head against the Knights (while the Knights’ came against Zumwalt South), Howell North captured the title under the new conference score system.

Coach Mark McAfee admits the narrow loss is a blow to the team, which always sets capturing the conference title as one of its pre-season goals.

“We had some pretty high expectations coming into this season,” Coach McAfee said, going on to say the team has come across some “land mines” which have hampered the season.

Among the “land mines” the coach spoke of were the loss of two would-be returning varsity players this year – one due to grades and the other because of scheduling conflict – and making too many mistakes in critical games.

Nonetheless, the team is keeping its eyes on a possible third straight run at state this year.

Coach McAfee says the team will get a good chance to prove its abilities beginning with the Conference Clash, a 27-team crossover tournament replacing the traditional conference tournament this year involving essentially all public schools in the area, over the weekend. Central will host two pools of the tournament Friday and the gold (winners) bracket Saturday.

The Spartans will then face SLUH, to which they lost state last year, on Monday.

“We got a big couple days coming up,” Coach McAfee said. “This is going to tell us where we sit against teams in the area.”