Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Arielle Sears’ monogram matches the role she plays for Renaissance High’s volleyball team. On the court, the ‘A’ stands for ace and the ‘S’ is for server.
The Lady Phoenix 5-7 junior setter was at her ace-serving best through the first week of the girls’ volleyball season and has been named the Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week.
“I’m proud of myself,’’ said Sears, who earned the nod as the first girls’ PSLer of the Week for 2013-14 after serving a 25-0 complete set with 18 aces against East English Village and following that up by being named the most valuable player in the 25TH annual PSL Invitational Tournament at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” she said of the league honor. “But it just pushes me to get better.”
Sears recorded 24 aces with 10 assists for the match against East English Village. She added eight aces and 13 assists in the season’s second match against Pershing, setting the tone for Renaissance getting off to an unbeaten 8-0 record.
The Lady Phoenix won all six of their matches in the PSL Invitational. They defeated Flint Beecher in the gold division title game as Sears led the way with 24 aces on 58 serves and 108 sets with 62 assists. She also had 11 kills and four blocks.
After finishing second to league champion Cass Tech the last two years, Renaissance is ready to make its move back to the top, Sears said.
“I feel like this is our year. The last two years we’ve seen what we need to do. I feel like we’re strong enough now to not let anything get to us.”
It’s all about maintaining a positive attitude, Sears said. “Thinking back on how I used to play, I am so different now,’’ she said. “I’ve improved so much since my freshman and sophomore years, especially my attitude.
“I don’t get down if I make a mistake. My only thought is what I need to do to fix it. I’ve gotten a lot stronger mentally and physically and it rubs off on other people. My attitude helps my team push a lot more. A lot of my younger teammates say they look up to me. I push them to be better and that pushes me to get even stronger.”
Sears credits Renaissance coach Louis Mitchell with creating the winning culture of Lady Phoenix volleyball. “Coach Louis is awesome,’’ she said. “He doesn’t stand for lack of effort and slacking. He’s a good coach who pushes everyone to do better.”
With a 3.5 grade point average, Sears is preparing herself for college and hopes to continue her volleyball career. She plans to major in biology and ultimately go to medical school to become an OB-Gyn. “I have a few schools looking at me,” she said. “I still have another year before college and I’m hoping to earn a scholarship.”
Her immediate focus is on maintaining her studies and making certain the Lady Phoenix get the most of their talent and effort.
“Our goals are to win the city and district championships,’’ she said. “Everything is mental. The skill is there but we have to believe we can do it. I believe my team is going to do great things. It’s going to be big on my part to make sure that we stay consistent.”
The Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week award is representative of the league’s top boys and girls athletes. The award is presented by the DPS Office of Athletics and sponsored for the fourth year in a row by Detroit-area McDonald’s owner-operators.