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Minnesota West volleyball: Lady Jays built for speed

ZACH HACKER/DAILY GLOBE Minnesota West second-year players (left to right) Brittney Hermeling, Kristen Andersen and Morgan Harberts stop for a photo after practice Thursday at the Worthington YMCA. The Bluejays open the season on Wednesday.

WORTHINGTON — If Minnesota West looks like a blur on the floor this season, that’s exactly how the Bluejays want it.

Speed has been one of the key focal points of preseason practices. The Lady Jays hope to use that element of their game to compete for a playoff spot in the always difficult MCAC.

Moving at a faster pace is something third-year M-West head coach Marie Johnson doesn’t expect will be a problem.

“We have a lot of quick players,” she said. “All of them have played at a variety of different levels and a lot of different styles of offenses. We’re really excited about what we have this year.”

Leading the way for this year’s squad are three returning players from last year’s team. Setter Morgan Harberts comes back as a key component of the Lady Jays’ offense with one of her top attackers being second-year hitter Kristin Andersen.

Andersen has been instrumental in helping the first-year players adjust to the collegiate level, according to Johnson. She also said Brittney Hermeling, another second-year player, is a key defensive asset and is a vocal leader on the floor.

Apart from those three, the Bluejays will take on a new look personnel-wise. So far, Johnson said the new cast of characters has done a good job working as one.

“They work very well together,” she said. “We’ve pushed them hard for the first two and a half weeks and they’ve really worked on coming together. They know they need to keep the intensity level up and consistently stay at that level. All the skills are there. We just need to put it all together and keep it there for an extended period of time.”

What helps in speeding up the melding process, according to Johnson, is the fact many of the players have played either with or against one another throughout high school. Adding to the three returners are seven newcomers. With the three returning players leading the way, Johnson believes the 2014 Lady Jays could make a run at the postseason if they continue to put forth the intensity and hard work she saw in practice prior to the start of the season.

Minnesota West will get its first chance to show off the new squad at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when it travels to Coon Rapids to take on Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

“The girls are really excited,” Johnson said. “They just need to keep in mind that we need to work hard for a successful outcome.”

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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