Young team but experienced core for PC spikers to build around
PLUM CITY - When half of your high school athletic team is made up of freshmen, there's really no way around one conclusion.
Your team is young and rebuilding.
And that's true for the Plum City volleball squad for the 2014 season as half the Blue Devils' 21-girl roster are members of the Class of 2018.
"We have to replace a lot, we have to rebuild a lot and some of those freshmen are going to have play varsity with just four seniors on the team," head coach Nanette Murray said.
The Devils have to replace six seniors from last season's 14-17 squad which finished 3-6 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. Those seniors included All D-SC player Sarah Gilles, Elaina Danzinger, who was honorable mention all-conference, along with Lexie Radle, Megan Caturia, Emma Hutter and Cora Hinrichs.
PC does return five letter winners. Junior Cheyanne Catura is the team returning kill leader with 55 from last season. Plum City also returns backrow players such as seniors Jillian Holt and Rhiannon Kernstock, a hitter in senior Taylor Chilson along with sophomore Kailee Broeckert.
Holt returns as the team's starting setter, making 236 which put her in the top 10 of setters in the D-SC.
Other upper classmen include senior Jazmin Kannel and juniors Rachel Redding, Mikayla Freund and Lexy Weiss. The sophomores are Broeckert, Jada Almsted and Helen Rassmussen.
"It's a nice group to build a team with," Murray said. "They're going to be the core of the team this season."
The problem is this core doesn't have a lot of height nor do they have the hitting power previous PC squads had over the past few seasons with players like Gilles, Danzinger, Marah Boyer and Heather Von Holtum.
"We have to be a scrappy team because we don't have the big hitters we had in the past," Murray said. "We can generate offense from a hitter like Cheyanne but we have to do so with different plays so she's hitting in different sets. It means we have to play more of a finesse game."
At least the freshmen won't be coming into cold as far as playing volleyball is concerned. Murray noted that many of them joined the returnees to play in a summer league and took part in a recent preseason tournament in Altoona.
"They got a feel for varsity play, which is more than some freshmen get going into their first high school season," Murray said. "They're still going to have to adjust to the speed of the game and to the atmospshere of a varsity contest."
Murray lists Colfax, Elk Mound and Boyceville as the top three teams in the D-SC going into this fall's campaign.
"We have lot of questions going into this season," Murray said. "And we can answer them if we stay injury free and we develop as a team faster than some might expect."
Plum City begins its season today at a quadrangular meet in Colfax starting at 5 p.m.