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Spring Valley spikers to toughen up for 2013 season

Spring Valley's Nevada Schlegel with the spike attempt against New Richmond in last Tuesday's quad meet at River Falls.

SPRING VALLEY - Everything which makes up a good volleyball team on paper, the Spring Valley High School squad has for this upcoming season.

The Cardinals return eight letter winners covering all the key positions on the floor.  This group includes one of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference’s top hitters in senior Emily Boisen, who was All D-SC a year ago, along with fellow wing hitter senior Nevada Schlegel, senior setter Tana O’Keefe, more hitters in sophomores Jessica Christensen and Becky Fesenmaier along with backrow players like juniors Maria Nygren, Ellen Brorson and Cassie Quinn.

 But despite this collection of talent and experience there’s one thing which has to be overcome for the Cardinals to be better than .500 at 17-17 overall, 4-5 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference records they had last season.

 “We have to be a mentally tougher team,” SV head coach Kellie Schlegel said. “Volleyball is a game of momentum swings and the teams which quickly forget the bad points and don’t dwell too long on the good ones are going to be the best teams.”

 To put it another way, it pays to be calm, even-keeled and “cool”  when it comes to volleyball and there’s nothing cooler for a prep spiker squad at the top of any season to have your top setter back sending the ball to your top returning hitters from a year ago. Barring injury or other bad fortune, O’Keefe will be racking up the assists in the 5-1 Cardinal offense and Boisen and Schlegel will rack up the kills the kills.

 “They’re seniors and they know this is it,”   Kellie Schlegel said. “They know they need to excel in their roles for the team to be successful and they’ve worked hard to do so. They played all summer and they’re ready to go.”

 Schlegel feels the Cardinals will have a multitude of options on offense with four strong hitters. Besides Nevada Schlegel and Boisen, sophomores Jessica Christensen and Becky Fesenmaier will secure the middle of the net area.

 “They’re younger but they saw a good deal of playing time last year because they can handle their roles,” Schlegel said. “They also give us an opportunity to improve on defense.”

 Valley defense will be strengthened by the return of letter winners in the backrow like Nygren, Brorson and Quinn. Improvement is why SV is still looking at several players to play the libero role. Schlegel said she hopes someone will grow comfortable at the position by the time the conference season rolls around.

 When it does, teams like Colfax, Mondovi, Boyceville and Plum City are being mentioned as the top preseason teams in the Dunn-St. Croix.  It will be easy for Spring Valley to join them, given their returning experience and talent, but, as was said before, one thing has to be overcome first.

 “We need to develop attitudes of steel,” Schlegel said. “That means we can’t dwell on bad patches and we have to pick each other up and help each other get going again when we need to.  I know from my own playing experience it’s not always easy to do compared to talking about it because you have control your emotions in game which is so emotional, but that’s what we have to get past to get better. What has us hopeful is our team unity so far has been very good. The girls have played together for a while now and they’ve meshed really well. And that fact will go a long way to making us a more confident team.”