LAKE ODESSA, Mich. (WLNS) – The Lakewood volleyball team has won the conference championship every year since 2004.
The Vikings switched conferences to the CAAC White this year, but after a big victory over Lansing Catholic, they’re in the driver’s seat to claim yet another conference crown.
Lakewood defeated Lansing Catholic in four sets. It was the first time since 2009 that Lakewood lost a set in a conference match.
While the Vikings’ conference dominance is incredibly impressive, head coach Cameron Rowland said conference titles are something the team spends little time thinking about. The Vikings wear shirts that simply read ‘November’ on the back, serving as a constant reminder of the month they spend the whole season preparing for.
“It just is stating, like, that’s what we’re working for,” said junior right-side hitter/setter Abby Pickard. “That’s what we’re here for, because we have huge goals for the end of the season in November.”
“There’s going to be ups and downs, there’s going to be ebbs and flows,” said Rowland. “But when Nov. 1st hits, we’ve got to be ready to go, because that’s what really matters.”
Lakewood’s incredible string of success began under Rowland’s mother, Kellie Rowland. Her top assistant was her husband, Clair, and together they guided the Vikings to over 1,000 victories and the 2012 Class B State Championship.
“Volleyball was not known [around here] without the Rowland name,” said senior defensive specialist/libero Carley Piercefield. “Kellie was a huge factor. My freshman year Kellie was still on the bench with us doing different things. If you look at our games now she’s still across our bench still saying things to Cameron and Cameron will yell ‘shut up Mom!’ or anything because she says so much.”
Cameron Rowland took over the program from his parents six years ago, and is not bashful about his deep love for the program.
“I grew up in this program,” he said. “This program I view as a parental unit. Some of my best memories are because of Lakewood volleyball and some of my saddest memories are because of Lakewood volleyball.”
The Vikings have finished as state runner-up five times since the 2012 state title, and coming so close has only provided more motivation.
“We have five runner-up trophies which, you know, it’s great to get those trophies but we’re also sick of those trophies,” Rowland said with a laugh.
So as this year’s Vikings close in on yet another conference title, they’re keeping their focus on November. The runner-up finishes of the past decade have further motivated their pursuit of the program’s second state championship, a championship they know would mean the world to Vikings of all eras.
“It’s an incredibly special program which alumni will tell you, that they don’t quite realize how special it is until they have graduated,” Rowland said. “So to have that piece of it and to have something that I get to be in charge of and lead is really special to me… it’s hard to describe because of what it means.”