2012 Preview: St. Croix Central volleyball team already updating season goalsHaving to redo team goals two weeks into the season is not a bad problem to have.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Having to redo team goals two weeks into the season is not a bad problem to have.
That’s what happened for the St. Croix Central volleyball team. By the end of their second week, the Panthers had already achieved one of their main goals. The goal was to win more matches than they had in 2011.
Last year the Panthers only won three matches. They already have won four matches and have been competitive with some strong programs from around the area.
The Panthers have a new look in several respects this season. They are a young squad with one of the tallest lineups the team has ever had. The Panthers are also one of the only teams in the state with two head coaches.
Jenna Foley and Laura Lee, two teachers in the district, have taken over the coaching duties. They shared the duties as the C team coach last season and liked the premise so much, they decided to apply for the varsity coaching opening as a tandem.
“We love it,” Lee said of the shared coaching responsibilities. “Football has hundreds of coaches. Two people making the decisions, handling the paperwork. I hope it catches on.”
The Panthers will run out of a 6-2 formation. They have three setters who can handle the two setting roles. Senior Laura DeSmith is one of the top setters in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. She was voted as the team captain by her peers.
Two sophomores will see time in the other setter position. Haylee Hawke and Sadie Buckel have shown good progress and the coaches think they will be good leaders for the future.
The Panthers have an assortment of hitters who give the team better depth in the front row than it has had in several seasons.
Senior Casey VanDusartz is one of the team’s leftside hitters.
“Casey supplies team energy. She hits lines well. She’s fast and covers the floor well,” Lee said.
Another senior leftside hitter is Kalli Armagost, who will be playing all-around this season.
“She’s a quiet leader. She doesn’t ever get rattled,” Lee said.
A third senior who hits from the leftside is Jessa Klinger. The coaches say Klinger has improved considerably since last season.
“She’s a fireball,” Lee said. “She hits hard and she’s fast.”
The fifth senior is right-side hitter Kelly Harrington. Harrington puts up a huge block and she has excellent hands, helping her to set when called upon.
Kayla Pabst and Ayla Granberg are the two juniors on the roster. Pabst is a big hitter and big blocker as a middle hitter. She’s worked hard in the off-season in an effort to play all around the court.
Granberg is working to get over some rotator cuff issues. She’s one of the team’s best servers with a strong jump serve. She’s a talented back row specialist.
Six sophomores have made the varsity roster.
“The sophomores are super athletic. The whole town knows the sophomore group is a ball of fire,” Lee said.
In addition to the two setters, Madison Malecek, Abby Harrington, Breanna Danielson and Bailey Booth have worked their way onto the varsity.
Malecek is a promising middle hitter who is coming back from summer facial surgery. The coaches are working to have her hit off quick sets.
Danielson will also be working as a middle hitter. Booth has been brought up to the varsity to serve as the team’s libero. Harrington is a back row specialist who can play any position.
With this group of players, the coaches are optimistic that the wins will keep coming. They are hoping to continue honing the individual skills to aid the team’s progress. The coaches say the players have set high goals for the rest of the season.
“The seniors think we can win conference,” Lee said.
Last week the Panthers earned their fourth win in a match against Glenwood City. The Panthers also lost to three top programs from the area during the week: Barron, Altoona and Ellsworth.
The Panthers conclude their non-conference schedule this Thursday when they play at Somerset. Central begins its D-SC schedule next Tuesday with a home match against Elmwood.