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MW VOLLEYBALL: Lady Jays ready to compete

Jordan Willi/Daily Globe Minnesota West volleyball player Lindsey Drooger bumps the ball during practice Tuesday in Worthington.1 / 2
Minnesota West volleyball player, Jes Hermerling, sets the ball during practice Tuesday in Worthington.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- After finishing last season 4-12, the Minnesota West Lady Jays volleyball team is looking to improve that record this year.

"We expect to be very competitive and are looking to make it into the regional tournament this season," Lady Jays coach Marie Johnson said.

The Lady Jays lost two sophomores last season in Alyson Drooger and Katherine Kazemba. Both players logged major minutes for Minnesota West last year and their presence on the floor will be sorely missed.

"They were both strong players and excellent leaders on and off of the court," Johnson, who is in her third as coach at Minnesota West, said. "Alyson was a major part of our front row and Katherine was a strong all-around player and very quick on the court."

Both players will be difficult to replace, but Johnson feels the seven incoming freshman will be able to take things in stride.

"They all will have a particular roll to fill on the team and will contribute where they are needed," Johnson said. "Mara Eichenberger will fill our setter position, while we are looking to use Maddie Rasche in the defensive libero spot.

"Lindsey Drooger, Tiffany Gehl and Kristine Kazemba all bring some additional height to our front row, and Karey Suby, and Ceilia Schmitz bring hustle and strength all around."

Returning sophmores, Brittany Hulstein, Jessica Hermeling and Katey Granstra will all play majors roles for the young Lady Jays team. Johnson hopes they can lead by example and continue to play strong at their given positions.

One of the major things the Lady Jays will need to work on in order to succeed this season is how to be more consistent in all parts of the game.

"This year we need to really work on our consistency and playing our game every time we come out on the court," Johnson said. "Last year there were a number of close matches that we could have won if we had only concentrated on how we play our game and not how the other team is playing. It is easy to play at the level of your opponent and we need to maintain our level."

An area of the Lady Jays' game that Johnson feels needs to improve is their blocking and attacking.

"Right now we have been working a lot on our attacking and blocking," Johnson said. "If we can become stronger in our first line of defensive and touch a majority of balls coming over the net we can help out our defensive passers so we have been concentrating a lot on that area at this time."

The Lady Jays open their seasons tonight against the Rochester Yellowjackets at 6:30 p.m. at the Worthington High School gym.

Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi

may be reached at 376-7335.