VOLLEYBALL: Saline Crowned Champions of the SEC Red

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YPSILANTI - The Saline Hornets have won the SEC Red volleyball crown.

The Hornet, who went undefeated during league matches during the regular season, competed in the SEC Red tournament at Lincoln Tuesday. Saturday, Saline went 6-1 in the league tournament, defeating everyone but Skyline. The standings give more weight to regular season wins, so the Hornets finished atop the SEC Red.

It appears to be their first SEC Red championship since 2016.

Darien Bandel is in the midst of her first year as coach of the Saline volleyball team. 

"It feels great. The girls have worked so hard and today to go through seven grueling teams, it's a good win. It's a great day," Bandel said.

Saline opened the day with victories over Saline, Bedford, Lincoln and Huron. Saline lost its fifth match against Skyline. Because of the way the standings are tabulated, the Hornets knew they could capture the SEC Red crown with victories over Monroe and Dexter.

Saline swept Monroe.

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Against Dexter, the Dreads won the opening set - putting the Hornets' title hopes in jeopardy.

Saline battled back to win the second set and then won the tiebreaker to win the crown.

Interviews with coach Bandel and the Senior follow the Saline-Dexter tiebreaker (@ 26 minutes.)

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"I loved how my team responded. My seniors stood up and put the pressure on the underclassmen to get it done. Dexter played great. They blocked well. They are a great trapping team," Bandel said.

One of those seniors who stepped up was Anna Hesse, who landed kill after kill to lift the Hornets back into contention against Dexter.

"Anna's really stepped up this year. She has a heavy load. We only have a couple true outsides. I'm really surprised and really pleased with how she's carried a huge load," Bandel said. "She's kind of an unsung hero. No one really knew her coming into the season and she's just lighting everybody up."

Bandel said she wasn't sure what to expect from the team this year - but she's got a pretty good idea now.

"I didn't know what to envision. I knew that we had every piece, that we had everything we needed here. It was about how I would transition in and how the girls were going to trust me and step up," Bandel said.

With those questions answered, the sky is the limit.

"Let's go win states," Bandel said. "We have the pieces. We have the momentum. I think we can go really far this year.

Click here to view about 260 photos from the Saline-Dexter match.

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