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By Dan Hardenbrook

Spend one minute around the coaches and players who will be taking part in this fall’s volleyball season for the Engadine Eagles and one thing will be clear: excitement is in the air.

Players and coaches recently met to set up their plan for the 2022 season. There was laughing and screaming, high fives and hugs, and a plan to put the Lady Eagles back on the volleyball map.

“I just want to create a fun and positive atmosphere,” said Lady Eagles Coach Oyuna Gabbard. “That’s the goal this season. We are just going to have fun and play hard and hopefully that helps us win games!”

The enthusiasm is shared by players who have been eager to get the season going, ready to prove that Engadine volleyball can shine again. The Lady Eagles were one of the top teams in Class D/Division 4 for many years, enjoying a long run of success under longtime coach Kathy Miller, who led the program to numerous district titles and won multiple regionals as well.

Since Miller’s departure, the volleyball program has seen coaches and solid players come and go, stalling the momentum they once had. After a few years rebuilding, they are looking to take the next step.

Gabbard says the returning leadership will be great for the team, led by multi-sport standout Lauren King. “Everybody knows Lauren. They know what she can do and she is awesome,” Gabbard said. “I feel she is going to have a big year for the team.”

King will have plenty of talent around her, as many players moved up early or got solid playing time at the JV level and are ready to contribute. “We may even have some players that will surprise people. We have new girls who have moved to the area. I’m excited to see what we can do,” said Gabbard.

The Lady Eagles started things off in a unique and exciting way holding a “Midnight Madness” practice on the very first day they could start the season. JV and varsity players gathered and went to work, while also keeping the key goal of having fun in mind.

“I wanted to do something different to get the girls excited,” Gabbard said. “Something different than just another first day of practice. It was a great bonding experience for our girls and was just neat to hang out, have fun and get together.”

The Lady Eagles will start their season on August 20, when they travel to Munising for a tournament. The home opener on their brand new gym floor is on August 30, when they host Rapid River.

Games against Newberry are set for September 15 (at Newberry) and October 11 (in Engadine), which will be the annual Dig Pink event.

2022 Engadine JV/Varsity Volleyball Schedule

Sat., Aug. 20 @ Munising Tournament (Varsity Only) – 9 a.m.
Thurs., Aug. 25 – @ Inland Lakes Tri Meet – 10 a.m.
Tues., Aug. 30 – vs Rapid River – 6 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 13 – @ Cedarville DeTour (@ DeTour) – 5:45 p.m.
Thurs Sept. 15 – @ Newberry – 5:45 p.m.
Mon., Sept. 19 – Mackinaw City (location TBA) – 5:45 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 20 – Home vs Pickford – 5:45 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 22 – Home vs Brimley – 5:45 p.m.
Sat., Sept. 24 – St. Ignace Varsity Tourney – 9 a.m.
Tues., Sept. 27 – @ Rudyard – 5:45 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 1 – St. Ignace JV Tourney – 9 a.m.
Tues., Oct. 4 – @ St. Ignace – 5:45 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 6 – vs Cedarville-DeTour – 5:45 p.m.
Tues., Oct 11. – vs Newberry (Dig Pink) – 5:45 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 13 – @ Pickford – 5:45 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 18 @ Brimley – 5:45 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 20 – vs Rudyard – 5:45 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 25 – vs St. Ignace (Parents Night) – 5:45 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 27 – @ Mid Pen – 6 p.m.

Home games in bold.
Listed start time is for the JV game, with varsity to Follow.