By Dan Hardenbrook

The most anticipated home volleyball games in recent memory take place this week as both middle and high school teams will play at home for this first time this week. The 7th and 8th grade teams, featuring lots of young talent, will play Wednesday night, followed by the JV and varsity starting their regular seasons Thursday. Both groups will play conference games against the Brimley Bays.

While it’s the first games that count in the standings, the Lady Indians and Lady Bays have already seen each other once. Both teams entered the Munising Invitational in mid-August, a popular preseason get together for teams to get a ton of early season experience. The two teams faced off in group play and again in the semifinals, with Newberry advancing to the tournament championship.

Brimley’s volleyball program is a perennial powerhouse in the EUP, often near the top of the league standings. They return this year with plenty of varsity playing time together.

Newberry’s volleyball program is on the rise, with young standouts making their way to the varsity early in their careers. Being thrown to the fire has hurt the Lady Indians in the past, who were forced to sacrifice success in favor of development against older, more experienced players.

This year’s Lady Indians are already far ahead of their winless marks from recent seasons. The addition of multiple international exchange students has brought a breath of fresh air and additional excitement to a team that may be the surprise team of the season. The JV game will start at 5:45 Thursday night with the varsity to follow.

At the middle school level, a talented and hungry group gets ready to start what they hope will be another dominant season. This year’s 8th grade group won the 7th grade EUP Conference title last season and has already caught the attention of other teams and their fans. The future stars of the high school program will get their time to shine Wednesday night. Middle school games begin with 7th grade at 5:30 and the 8th grade playing after.