Story of high school volleyball team’s triumph over tragedy sells itself

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There’s a pretty big spoiler right there in the title of “The Miracle Season.”

But this high school sports drama isn’t so much about the suspense of the outcome as it is about its big heart and its inspirational message. As such, it’s a rather generic trip through sports movie clichés, but it’s delivered with enough conviction that it lands in bounds.

“The Miracle Season” is the story of the 2011 Iowa City West High School girls volleyball team, which was looking to repeat its 2010 State Championship winning season. Yet at the start of the season, team leader Caroline “Line” Found dies in a moped accident after leaving a church event. (Her mother, who was battling cancer, dies less than two weeks later.)

It’s up to Line’s best friend Kelly (Erin Moriarty, “The Kings of Summer”) and coach Kathy Bresnahan (Oscar-winner Helen Hunt) to pull the team together and get back on the winning track after a disastrous start to their season, including a forfeit loss to their crosstown rivals. Through perseverance and dedication, the team pulls together for Caroline and their Iowa town.

Directed by Sean McNamara, veteran of three “Baby Geniuses” movies and the 2011 inspirational surfing drama “Soul Surfer” (also with Hunt), “The Miracle Season” hits predictable notes, but finds a steady groove once the team gels and starts putting together a string of wins. Hunt, who is very choosy in her roles, makes for a sensitive and caring coach, but she knows how to whip her girls into shape. A scene where she sends her team through a series of rigorous practice drills provides the film’s most effective moments.

The underlying story here is powerful enough that it sells itself. The best thing about “The Miracle Season” is it lets that story unfold and doesn’t do anything to stand in its way.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘The Miracle Season’

GRADE: B-

Rated PG for some thematic elements

Running time: 99 minutes

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