20 August 2013

Volleyball: A first division goal

Ruthie Schmitt moving to setter (photo by J. Lindquist)
Veteran Tiger coach Mike Woody likes what he has seen in early practice sessions and is hoping the return of six letterwinners and a ball-control, defensive-minded game plan will help improve on last fall's 14-15 record.

"We see ourselves in the top half of the Missota Conference and a top-six team in the section," Woody said. "We are excited about the upcoming season."

Four of the six returnees are upperclassmen:senior middle hitter Morgan Cecchittini, senior setter Ruthie Schmitt, senior defensive specialist Diana Comes and junior outside hitter Summer Skokan.

Cecchittini missed much of last a season with an injury and Schmitt is moving into the setter slot from last year's role as a multiple-position player.

The other two returning players with varsity experience are freshmen Emma Fahning and McKenzie Hesse. Fahning was an all-purpose performer as an eighth-grader last fall, leading the team in several statistical categories. Hesse provided a powerful offensive game after moving up the varsity later in the 2012 season.

"They (Fahning and Hesse) might only be freshmen but they are going to be the foundation of what I believe will put us in the top half of the conference," Woody said.

Newcomers expected to vie for varsity court time include  junior middle hitter Vanessa Garke and junior setter/defensive specialist Hanna Baer.

Emma Fahning statistical leader last year (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Woody says ball control and strong defensive play figure to be the keys to success for the season ahead.

"Teams should struggle to put the ball away against us," he said.

Shakopee and Chaska both return veteran lineups and according to Woody should once again be the class of the Missota Conference. Section 1 pre-season favorites include Owatonna and Winona of the Big Nine Conference.

Troy Hedtke joins veterans Jon Ostgaard and Kelly Amie as varsity assistant coaches for the 2013 season.

The Tigers play Thursday night with a non-conference home match against Austin at Tiger Gym.