Original article can be found here. Photo is Star file photo.
By John Raffel, email@example.com
Originally published 1:12 am EST, Thursday, November 26, 2020
BALDWIN – Baldwin’s volleyball team displayed immense improvement as a program this season, and Duane Roberts was named Coach of the Year for the Pioneer newspaper’s dream team.
Roberts has been coach six years total for Baldwin volleyball with five as head skipper. His first year, he was the junior varsity and assistant varsity coach.
Baldwin was 7-2 in the West Michigan D League this season. Overall, Baldwin was 29-27.
I believe that we exceeded expectations,” Roberts said. “This is still relatively a young program and especially a young team. We have made great strides within the last few years with the buy-in from the student athletes. Many times, people look over Baldwin as a quality volleyball team/school. Every team this year from Baldwin was competitive, composed of younger members, and ultimately played and contested with the best.
“This team shocked many coaches and officials with their transformation season this year resulting in them being at the bottom of the D League, 7th of 10 schools, and now becoming second place. We placed second with the first team in our conference being Mesick who is a regional champion for this year.”
Like any volleyball team, the Panthers had to overcome the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic.
“Tournament play and other activities were limited,” Robert said. “We were not able to have a great off season to develop and camps to attend due to the lock down. We are grateful to play and the safety measures that we had to endure even throughout the summer to allow us to be a school that met and completed its full schedule for volleyball.
“We also had a young team, and a starting freshman on varsity who also served as a setter and middle hitter. It was a challenging season, but very rewarding with growth that was made. Baldwin’s program is starting to look like the program I have envisioned. Next year we estimate to be just as competitive and if not more. I am excited for the year to come and the off seasons of preparation.”
Key graduates from this year’s team were co-captains Monique Rowland and Kendra Washington.
“Both young ladies have been with me the last four years for volleyball,” Roberts said. “The interesting fact is they and Jenna Johnson from last year and Cierra Pieske, who is a junior, would have all played basketball for me around the same time back in elementary school.
“Key returners will be the remaining players on the varsity team from this year. I am looking at a possible newcomer or two from my JV team. I am looking forward to the return of Cierra Pieske, Mary Pigg, Naomi Marsh Robinson, Aariona Burrell, Abigail Oisten, Rachel Carpenter, and Penelope Lapham. These young ladies have already begun to make plans for the off-season as well.”