Jacob Meseke | editor in chief
Team unity will be a big key for the volleyball team to make it back to the state tournament.
Head volleyball coach Chris Smart is entering his second season as coach. He looks forward to seeing the development of his players this year. “I think what every coach looks forward to is the progression of all of their student athletes and how well they adapt to the change of what we are asking of them,” Smart said.
The Chargers lost five seniors from last year, of which four went on to play collegiate sports. Lauren Schutter is the only one playing volleyball (Michigan State). Smart said the team will definitely miss that group. “I would say the overall athleticism from our seniors last year was definitely a contributing factor to how good we were.”
Smart said the incoming freshman class will be something to watch for the next four years. “They are a very athletic group of ladies,” Smart said. “With volleyball it’s a lot about technique and footwork and that’s something that I’m excited about coaching in their development.”
In addition to underclassmen, the team added senior Lexi Barnes, a transfer from Abilene. “I’m looking forward to having a good season with my new teammates and coaches that push me to be my best,” Barnes said.
Barnes is one of four seniors on the team. Paxton Meyer, Annie Wright and Hadlee Diepenbrock also return from last year’s squad.
Smart said the potential of the team is high. “I have told some people over the summer and all of their parents — if this team can come together from top to bottom then this group of ladies will be a great team that can accomplish their goals. I think we have good upperclassman leadership this year. Now they will have to bring it all together,”
The Chargers are coming off a 34-10 record and a fourth straight state tournament appearance. “I have high expectations for this group of ladies. This first week of practice has been great. I have thrown some changes at them at the beginning of the season and they have responded great. You can just see the focus and expectations every day that this group has for themselves,” Smart said.
The team begins its season at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Amy Schutter Invitational Tournament at WHS. “We want to get off on a strong start at the Amy Schutter Memorial Tournament and then keep progressing,” Smart said.