- Evening, Weekend & Online Programs
- ALUMNI RELATIONS
- GIVING TO LAKELAND
- ABOUT LAKELAND
The Lakeland Muskies captured the Lake Michigan Conference Tournament title for the fourth straight season with a 3-1 (30-26, 26-30, 30-19 and 30-13) victory over #2 seeded Maranatha Baptist Bible College Crusaders. With the win the Muskies earned the LMC's automatic playoff berth for the NCAA Tournament which will open on Thursday.
"We knew we had to have strong serving tonight," said senior Heather Heberlein. "We struggled with that at first, but when we got our serving down the rest of our game came around. We got the confidence we needed."
The seniors dominated the attack tonight in Heberlein, Danielle Duranceau, Nikki Boeckh and Sarah Buechel. Heberlein led the team with 16 kills, Duranceau tallied 15, while Boeckh netted 12.
"Heather Heberlein made great adjustments," said head coach Chad Schreiber. "They rotated their defense to take away her favorite shot and she made the adjustment to how she was going to hit her shots. Once she made the adjustment she rattled off six or seven straight kills.
Buechel and Boeckh each tallied three service aces, with Boeckh registering three straight at a key point in the third game.
"I was glad to see Nikki end her senior year on a strong point," said Schreiber. "I have been down on her the last couple weeks, the last four matches she played at a level I expected her to for a long time. She carried us at points were we needed someone to carry us tonight."
On defense sophomore Ashley Domask and senior Renee Steinert led the way with Domask tallying 28 digs and Steinert registering seven blocks.
The Lakeland program struggled early in the season dropping three of their first four LMC matches, before turning around and winning 15 straight conference matches, including tonight, and only dropping two games during that stretch.
"When we were struggling that was really tough," said senior Megan Maas. "We realized that we had nothing to prove to anyone but ourselves. The team pulled together."
The seniors have won four straight LMC Tournament Championships and also have earned four straight NCAA Tournament bids.
"Well I told the seniors that every year the program as been getting a little better," said Schreiber. "Last year's seniors had the opportunity to be conference champions four straight years, but they only had three NCAA Tournament appearances. The only way this group could top them was to win four straight conference championships and make the NCAA Tournament four times and they did."
It has been an amazing accomplishment for this senior class to make four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and after the game they were visibly emotional.
"It has been four conference championships and four bids to the NCAA tournament and it's an amazing feeling being on top for four straight years," said Maas. "It's a rare thing for a team to do that. It has been wonderful. We struggled in the beginning, but we are back and excited to be in the NCAA Tournament."
"To make it to the NCAA all four times in the four years you are in college is amazing," said Heberlein. "I am so proud to be a part of something this big. I think it is a great way to end our careers. It was rough at the beginning of this season, but just knowing that we were able to bounce back and accomplish what we wanted to and we are advancing means a lot to everybody, but especially the seniors."
Senior Renee Steinert was in an unusual position for the Muskies, as she has experienced the NCAA Tournament as a basketball player and will now get an opportunity to go to the tournament with the volleyball program.
"It shows just how hard we work at Lakeland and that we settle for nothing but the best," said Steinert. "When you enter a program here our coaches tell us that we don't want to just win the conference, but we want to go to the NCAA Tournament and win games there."
The rest of the team was also excited to help send this senior class to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year.
"I'm really pumped knowing that we get to go to the NCAA Tournament," said sophomore Ashley Domask. "It is awesome to see the seniors this happy."
The Lakeland NCAA Tournament seeding and opponent will be announced on Monday.