Tiger volleyball program is extremely young

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The youngest team in the area this fall might be the New Richmond volleyball team.

With two seniors and two juniors in the entire program, the Tigers will be leaning heavily this season on their sophomore class.

Last season, the Tigers had a large senior class which received much of the varsity court time. The lone returning starter for the Tigers is junior libero Amelia Feuerer. Second-year Tiger coach Al Getschel has elected to start the season with just eight girls on the varsity roster. He said this was done with the plan that other girls could move up to the varsity, based on merit.

Getschel said the coaches are "looking at heart, desire and effort as well as skills. I'm looking for a team that wants it."

Effort may be the most influential word in the Tigers' vocabulary this season. With the lower numbers at the varsity and JV, there are opportunities available for girls who step up and take it. But Getschel said that effort has to be seen every day in practice and it comes with being good teammates. The coaches are looking to build a strong team chemistry. And while the numbers are low in the two grades, there are excellent numbers in the lower grades, with 41 girls out in the high school program.

The two seniors on the roster are Avery Patraw and Sami Paulson and both are playing at the varsity level for the first time. They will both serve as outside hitters, Patraw on the left side and Paulson on the right.

Feuerer and Lauren Smith are the juniors on the Tiger roster. Feuerer's well established in the Tiger defense, while Smith will serve as a middle hitter for the team.

Sophomore Mykenzie Patten steps into the setting role for the Tigers. Sophomore Mandy Dolezal will be a left-side hitter and her sister, Kayla, will be a defensive specialist who could also see time hitting from the left side. Sophomores Gracie Getschel and Audrey Feuerer are competing for the other middle hitting position.

One thing that works in the Tigers' favor this season, according to Getschel, is that nearly all of the teams in the Middle Border Conference suffered major turnover due to graduation. He said St. Croix Central is an exception, and that he expects Osceola to field a strong team again.

The Tigers opened their season last Tuesday with a home quad tournament. The results were quite favorable, with New Richmond defeating Somerset and Spring Valley. The only loss came against a talented River Falls team. Getschel said the coaches were pleased "with just about everything" from the Tigers' performance.

Over the weekend the Tigers' inexperience showed at times when they played in the Menomonie Sprawl. The Tigers won two matches in the seven they played, with wins over Cochrane-Fountain City and Elmwood.

Getschel said there were positive aspects to the Tigers' play as the girls continue to form together into a cohesive unit on the floor. He said Amelia Feuerer passed well in the tournament, with Getschel leading the team in serving and Smith in kills. He said the team's overall blocking was vastly improved over the recent home quad.

The next competition for the Tigers will be next Tuesday at the Ellsworth quad meet.