PREP VOLLEYBALL MIDSEASON REPORT: Plenty of teams in the running for RRC titleWith the Red Rock Conference volleyball season approximately one third of the way through, it already seems that there are a number of teams that will be in the thick of the running for the conference title.
With the Red Rock Conference volleyball season approximately one third of the way through, it already seems that there are a number of teams that will be in the thick of the running for the conference title.
Only Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Southwest Star Concept have remained undefeated so far, but three other teams are perched just a game behind and every other team is just a single hot streak away from joining the pack at the top of the conference.
Here is how the team’s in the conference stack up thus far in the season, ordered based on last year’s conference standings:
Murray County Central
Last year the Rebels won the conference title with a perfect 11-0 conference record (20-5-3 overall record), but this year they have already suffered a conference loss at the hands of a tough Westbrook-Walnut Grove squad.
However, MCC has enough of the right ingredients to recover and make a serious run at defending its title.
Seniors Makenzie Giese (OH) and Brooklyn Schmitz (S) give the Rebels a pair of veteran leaders with a wealth of varsity experience. Sophomore Kristi Bose (MH) also returns after a standout freshman campaign last season.
Senior Ashley Woldt (OH) and junior Macy Halbur (MH) also saw plenty of playing time for the team last season.
Already this season MCC has benefitted from a breakout campaign by junior Taylor Schreier (OH). Head coach Kati Bobeldyk hopes Schreier will continue to establish herself as an impact player both in the front and back row.
Bobeldyk mentions that the team has focused a lot on its serve receive and defense so far this season to make up for the loss of libero Elissa Reinsma to graduation.
Overall, Bobeldyk hopes that her players will continue to improve individually and as a team so that the team can be competitive in the conference.
Despite the loss to W-WG and to powerhouse Minneota, the Rebels have opened with a 5-2 overall record and are hoping its big win against Red Rock Central on Tuesday will help build momentum for the rest of the season.
Southwest Star Concept
The Quasars met with Southwest Christian on Tuesday in a battle of teams with perfect conference records and emerged with a five-set victory, demonstrating that they have what it takes to back up last year’s 10-1 conference record (23-8 overall record) with a run at the title this year.
SSC doesn’t lack for experienced players this season.
Jennifer Schmidt (MH), Maddie Rasche (libero) and Jordin Elness (S) give the Quasars a strong senior core. The team also has a trio of experienced juniors in Alyssa Hendrickson (RH), Mandy Henkels (S) and Julia DeWall (DS) and returns standout Courtney Place (OH) as a freshman.
Sophomores Autumn Hinkeldey (OH), Kristin Liepold (MH) and Alisa Carlson (MH) figure to be among the younger players that will be called upon to give SSC an edge over its competition.
Many of the players on the team played in summer leagues and attended volleyball camps in the summer, which no doubt has been one of the factors leading to the Quasars’ hot start (3-0 conference record, 6-5 overall record) despite playing a number of schools out of the team’s class size.
Head coach Cindy Owen said that the team’s hope is to be competitive in every match.
If every match turns out like Tuesday’s, SSC will be very tough to beat for any conference opponent.
Despite Tuesday’s loss to Southwest Star Concept, the Eagles have had very little to frown at during an 8-1-1 start to their season (2-1 conference record).
After finishing third in the conference with a 9-2 record last season, SWC is positioned to have as much chance as any other team to sit atop the conference standings at the season’s end.
Senior setter Michaela Zeinstra has anchored the team’s offense as its most experienced player. The Eagles have also received plenty of experience from seniors Hanna Bosma (MH) and Megan De Ruyter (OH). Head coach Brian Busker praises De Ruyter as a go-to, all-around player.
Junior Amber Pater (OH) also has been a consistent and reliable player for the team.
Among the players that have stepped into a bigger role this season are seniors Emaleigh Vreeman — who has become the team’s second setter — and Deidra Vander Woude and junior Hannah Van Dyke, who has become the team’s go-to passer and has done a great job of covering the back row corner to corner.
Busker said it has been pleasant to see how the team has come together and noted that the main things the team has to focus on are its fight and focus to be able to continue to perform at a consistent level of play.
While acknowledging that there are three or four teams that can make a serious run at the conference title, Busker hopes and expects the Eagles to be one of those top teams.
With first-year head coach Cathy Baumann at the helm, the Chargers have made some early noise in the conference with a 4-0 start in conference play, which the team hopes will help it improve from a fourth-place finish (8-3 conference record) last season.
W-WG has a quartet of returning letterwinners in seniors Anne Woelber (S), Karley Deprez (MH) and Maddie Frank (RH) and sophomore Dayna Comnick (OH). All four have demonstrated the ability to be game-changers in the team’s 10-5 start, which included a second-place finish at its home tournament on Sept. 10.
The team also has benefitted from a strong youth movement, with Comnick and junior Paige Erickson (OH) developing as reliable all-around players and outstanding servers, junior Hailey Osland (MH) and sophomore Madison Takle (RH) making an impact both at the net and on defense and junior Kelsi Wahl (MH) making her presence known with good blocks and serves.
Despite a rough start with a loss to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Baumann mentions that her players have really come together as a team.
With a number of top conference foes still left on the schedule, W-WG won’t have an easy road to a conference title, but the team’s quick start has shown that it will take quite a performance to slow the Chargers down.
Red Rock Central
The Falcons also got off to a strong start to their season before facing their first major setback with a loss on Tuesday night against Murray County Central.
However, the team’s 2-1 conference record (6-5 overall) still has it in the top tier of competitors for the conference crown.
After a 14-11 overall record and 6-5 conference record a year ago, head coach Sara Arfsten said that the team has a goal to finish much better in conference play than it did last year.
RRC returns a full lineup of experienced players, led by senior Klarissa Larsen (MH), who has improved her already dominant spiking and blocking skills. Junior Chloe Arfsten (OH) was the team’s leading digger last year and was third in kills, senior Alison Kircher (S) has excelled in an increased role, sophomore Brooke Rasmussen returns for a second year at libero, senior Kendra Hagert (MH) returns in the middle and junior Fern Engen (MH) returns as a strong presence at the net.
The Falcons also have plenty of depth with a quartet of juniors (Katie Larsen (OH), Tegan Derickson (S), Angie Hanneman (OH) and Mariah Determan (DS)) and sophomore Cassandra Erickson (OH) poised to make significant contributions down the stretch.
RRC has shown its claws with a big win at Worthington on Sept. 13 and will look to recover from Tuesday’s loss to MCC when it plays at Fulda today.
A four-game losing streak to begin the season had the Raiders a bit out of sorts, but a win against Round Lake-Brewster on Tuesday finally gave the players a taste of victory.
Fulda had a tough early schedule and had some hard-fought losses, but is still in a good position to back up last year’s 6-5 conference campaign with a strong showing in the remainder of its conference schedule.
The team returns a number of top players from last season in seniors Courtney Hulstein (S) and Sarah Strenge (OH) and juniors Brittney Hermeling (OH), Brooke Wenzel (RH) and Amanda Schumacher (MH).
The Raiders also have a pair of high-impact new additions in Italian foreign exchange student Silvia Zanini (OH) and junior Rachel Cheadle, who moved to Fulda from Minneota.
The youngest player making a big impact for the Raiders has been sophomore Dani Hermeling, who has blossomed into a great fit at libero for the team and figures to continue to develop into an outstanding player at the position throughout the rest of the schedule and in years to come.
Head coach Jennifer Tiesler said that she expects the girls will bounce back from the team’s slow start and is looking forward to what the rest of the season will bring.
The Dragons have run into a trio of tough conference opponents (Westbrook-Walnut Grove, Red Rock Central and Southwest Christian) in an 0-3 start to their conference schedule, but head coach Lynette Springman feels that her team has the potential to rebound from its rough start and improve on last season’s 5-6 finish in the conference (10-15 overall record).
Adrian has seven seniors on its roster, the most experienced of whom are Sydne Springman (MH/S) and Nichole Loosbrock (S). As for the team’s other seniors, Shannon Klooster (OH) played some back row last year, Alisha Tweet (RH) and Karly Kramer (MH) played at right-side hitter, Nina Weidert plays in a utility role and Tasha Lange has been playing at outside hitter.
The Dragons also return a trio of juniors that were on the varsity roster last year in Courtney Vaske (MH), Rachel Kontz (S) and Taylor Voss (OH).
Coach Springman mentions that the team has shaken up the lineup this year and has some players seeing time at new positions.
The coach foresees Vaske and Kontz developing into team leaders this season and also foresees good things from recent varsity addition Corie Reckamp, a sophomore that Springman says has been just what the team needs on the left side.
Springman notes that her players approach the game with enthusiasm, a positive attitude and a deep passion for the game. She said that the team is aware of what it needs to work on and knows that being a top team in the conference is within its reach.
The Panthers are off to a 2-5 overall start and a 1-3 start in conference play under first-year head coach Phillip Rotunda after a 4-8 finish in conference play a year ago.
Rotunda said that the team’s goal is to keep improving in each and every match to get ready for the playoffs rather than seeing the team’s progress go in the opposite direction.
Ellsworth is led this season by a quartet of veterans in seniors Abby Drenth (OH) and Emily Timmer (MH) and juniors Bridget Kramer (DS) and Kadie Werner (OH).
Sophomores Alexa Huisman (MH) and Alissa Walters (OH) have developed into go-to options for the Panthers this season as the team has been relying heavily on younger talent.
Ellsworth will be looking to improve its conference record with a number of clashes within the RRC in the coming days, starting tonight at home against Round Lake-Brewster.
The Raiders are among the teams with a new head coach this season, with Kayla Johnson in her first season at the helm. Assisting Johnson is 2011 RL-B graduate Mara Eichenberger, who was one of the team’s top players last season.
Round Lake-Brewster finished 3-9 in the conference and 9-16 overall last season and has accumulated a 1-3 record in conference play so far this season.
The team has received senior leadership from Zoe Baerenwald (S) and Jenessa Ling (OH), with junior Sarah Baumgard (MH) and freshman Kailey Wendland (MH) returning as the team’s other most experienced players.
Wendland has developed into an all-around threat for the Raiders, leading a youth movement on the team that has also included significant contributions from sophomore Sonja Peters.
Johnson said that though the team is young as has a lot to learn, the team is progressing and has great potential for the rest of the season.
The Patriots graduated seven seniors from last year’s lineup, leaving this year’s lineup with a number of fresh faces.
H-BC’s 2-2 start in conference play already matches the team’s total number of conference wins from a year ago (2-10 final conference record), leaving the team with plenty of time to make great strides within the conference.
Junior Paige Leuthold (MH) was among the players that entered this season with varsity experience and has developed into the focal point of the Patriots’ attack. Natalie Leuthold (OH) has been putting together a very strong all-around season during her senior year and junior Haley Van Wyhe (OH) has made up for a lack of size with great hops at the net, showing no fear and excelling in her role.
H-BC doesn’t possess the physicality and height of other teams in the conference, but head coach Mary Jo Graphenteen mentions that the team is meshing well and has been progressing in a number of areas and hopes to make the jump from being a middle-of-the-road team to being able to compete at the next level.
The Flying Dutchmen, like the Patriots, are off to a 2-2 start in the conference after a 2-10 conference campaign last year (4-20 overall record last season).
Head coach Randy Butson mentions that though the team has been inconsistent during the early part of the season, it has put together stretches of good volleyball.
Edgerton’s top returning players this season have been juniors Jessica Menning (S) and Ciara Everett (LH) and senior Lindsey Drooger (RH).
Sarah Post (MH) and Tara DeKam (MH) are a pair of players that have developed into impact players this season on a roster that is heavily composed of juniors and seniors.
Butson said that the team’s goal this season is to get better with every match.
The Flying Dutchmen face some tough tests in the coming days with a match at Southwest Christian tonight and home contests against Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Murray County Central next week.
The Wolverines have a number of seniors on the roster this season, whose experience the team will rely on to improve from a 1-10 conference record last year.
ML/B-O has played two of the toughest teams in the conference in an 0-3 start to the conference schedule and will look to earn its first conference win tonight when it hosts Hills-Beaver Creek.
The team’s top returning players from a year ago are seniors Laura Romsdahl (OH), Lounee Soutthivong (libero) and McKenzie Hopwood (OH) and junior Janessa Peters (MH).
Sophomore Rachel Dukes has stepped in as the team’s setter, filling the shoes vacated with the graduation of Kaitlin Feil. She has already made an impact in the role and will be a key player as the team enters the heart of the conference schedule.
Head coach Kristin Pfeiffer said that she is really looking forward to her team showing the area what it is capable of this season. She mentions that her players have a lot to offer and is hoping they will be able to deliver to their potential.
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