Volleyball

Once cut from 8th grade volleyball team, senior has Holt eyeing title

Holt senior Madison David has been an impact player for the Rams this season.

Holt senior Madison David has been an impact player for the Rams this season.

HOLT – Madison David isn’t sure she would have made it to this point in her volleyball career if it weren’t for reality spiking her in the face during her eighth-grade year.

She was prepared to call it quits after getting cut from Holt Middle School’s eighth-grade volleyball team, a year after she said she “miraculously” made the seventh-grade squad after having not played competitive volleyball her entire life.

Before eighth-grade tryouts rolled around, David was all in. She played club volleyball for the first time following the seventh-grade season, and she was more than confident that she had tapped into something.

“I was thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m going to make it. I’m going to advance, a lot.’

“I didn’t make it. I was devastated. It hurt, I guess, but it just made me try harder. … I was upset, I didn’t get why I was cut … I was pretty arrogant, honestly.”

Thanks to a pep talk from her mother, she kept with it, and made the Holt High School junior varsity team as a freshman.

Now a senior, she is in the midst of her second season on varsity and is among the team’s leaders in kills and blocks. The Rams (24-10-5) are the No. 1 seed in the CAAC Blue tournament after going 7-0 in conference play during the regular season and will face No. 5 Grand Ledge in the semifinals Thursday.

Holt varsity volleyball coach Kellie Sweitzer said she’s noticed David’s continuous development each year she’s been in the program. However, Sweitzer said her middle blocker has taken her play up another notch this season.

“She’s putting balls away and killing the ball like we did not expect from her,” said Sweitzer, whose team didn’t lose a set during CAAC Blue play. “She’s stepped up a lot, and she’s definitely someone we look to and try to feed the ball to.”

One of the people whose job is to get David the ball is her classmate Alana Sundermann.

The senior setter can still recall the moment when David made junior varsity as a freshman and the excitement she felt for her.

“She’s gotten a lot more confident in herself,” Sundermann said. “I have a lot of fun setting her because I know she’s going to put the ball where it needs to be. She’s been a key component to our team this year.”

David’s season has helped put Holt on the cusp of just its second CAAC Blue outright title during Sweitzer’s tenure. If victorious Thursday, the Rams, who already guaranteed themselves at least a share of the league title by going unbeaten during the regular season, will take on either No. 2-seeded Okemos or No. 3-seeded East Lansing in the championship game Tuesday. The tournament champion gets a share of the conference title, as well.

In addition, Holt hasn’t won a Class A district tournament game since 2010, and Sweitzer said the team has been keying in on the opportunity to end that drought. And with 11 seniors on the roster, the Rams are hoping experience coupled with a potentially lengthy winning streak could ignite a postseason run.

“Last year was (the seniors) first year being on varsity all at once,” David said. “We didn’t get the outcome we thought we would. We thought we would win a lot more, and we didn’t.

“We made sure to put in the work until we found what worked for us and how to win.”

Contact James L. Edwards III at jledwards@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.

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