20 August 2012

Volleyball: Looking to move up

The Tigers open the 2012 season Thursday night in Austin
For the past two seasons the Tigers have had trouble winning the close ones but with eight varsity veterans returning this fall Tiger coach Mike Woody hopes those days are in the rear view mirror.

"If we can stay strong and fight through in the close ones, I think we can build confidence which is something we have lacked the last two seasons," Woody said.

The eight returnees from last year's 7-20 season include senior captains Mia Johnston (setter) and Kaylene Seurer (middle hitter); seniors Emily Nelson (outside hitter) Kelsey Lindell (middle), Rachel Eckert (libero) and Courtney Johnston (right side); junior setter Ruthanne Schmitt and eighth-grader Emma Fahning.

Seniors Kayla Collins (right side) and Elissa Baago (right side); juniors Morgan Cecchetini (middle) and Alexis Wenskaug (setter); sophomore Summer Skokan (outside hitter) and eighth-graders Ella Lofton (outside hitter) and McKenzie Hesse (outside hitter) should also vie for varsity court time.

Senior setter and captain Mia Johnston (above) and eighth-grade outside hitter Emma Fahning (photos by Jim Lindquist)

Woody said his team's main attributes should be a pesky defense and a balanced offense ignited by setter Johnston.

"Mia's experience and leadership will be important," Woody said. "She has done a great job as captain over the summer."

Woody is also excited about the return of Fahning who led the team in digs and service aces last fall as a seventh-grader.

"Emma will be stepping in to more of a hitting role this season," he said. "She has improved quite a bit and is a lot stronger than she was last season."

On the "to be determined" list is the area of serve reception.

"We will have to improve there and continue to play scrappy defense to keep us in points," Woody said.

As always, the Missota Conference is loaded with talented teams with perennial powers Shakopee, Chaska and Chanhassen likely to battle it out for the league title.

"I believe we are capable of a winning season," Woody said. "I expect us to finish right behind them."

Kelli Amie  and Jon Ostgaard return as Woody's varsity assistants with Maggie Endersbe and Megan La Chapelle sharing the ninth grade coaching chores.

Heather Ballstadt, Molly Meinke, Kerry Beton and Ann Schmitt will coach the Boeckman Middle School teams with Megan Roche, Brittany Fennern, Gina Seufer and Miranda Gravley working with the teams at Dodge Middle School.

After hosting the Missota Conference Jamboree Tuesday (Aug. 21) at Tiger Gym, the Tigers open 2012 play Thursday with a non-conference road match at Austin.

Senior captain Kaylene Seuerer digs one out