(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School volleyball team is off to a solid start despite major transition following two consecutive district titles.
The Lady Bison, with a new head coach and having lost three key players from last season, came in second place in a season-opening weekend tournament at Eau Claire High School.
New Buffalo scored relatively easy victories over Countryside Academy and Eau Claire and split two sets against Bloomingdale. However, the Lady Bison came up short in both sets to Berrien Springs 26-24 and 25-18.
New Buffalo was undefeated last year until losing the opening match in the regionals in four sets to Battle Creek St. Phillip, winning 20 consecutive district titles.
Bruce Mollineaux, the former girls’ volleyball head coach at Michigan Lutheran High School, is roaming the sidelines for the Lady Bison this year. The Titans lost to New Buffalo in the district finals the past two seasons.
Kevin Labaj, the former Lady Bison head coach, stepped down. Labaj said a baby on the way along with a new job left him no other choice. Responsibilities of raising a newborn and a longer commute from his new employer in Valparaiso would have taken Labaj from the time and energy he could dedicate to the program.
“If I can’t give the girls 100-percent of my time, how can I expect them to give 100-percent of their time,” he said.
Labaj said he might get back into coaching at some point in the next couple of years.
This year’s squad is without leading scorer and first-team all-conference player Sophia DeOliveira, who graduated. In addition, Ava Mullen, who also made the first team all-conference squad, and Kelsey Corkran, a member of the second all-conference team, unexpectedly transferred to other schools.