Leland hopes to build on girls volleyball revival
Now coach Laurie Glass and the Comets hope to build on their revival.
“We hope to continue to represent Leland volleyball well,” said Glass, who will have to replace three graduates who helped the Comets win the Northwest Conference championship and reach the Class D quarterfinals last season. “The Northwest is a strong conference and we look forward to the competition.”
The Comets lost three All-Staters in Liz McKee, Tantzi Snyder and Hanna Schaub, but return senior starters Andrea Hunt (middle blocker/outside hitter), Maggie Osorio (libero) and Sammie Sterkenberg (setter/opposite), as well as junior Felicia Whittaker (middle blocker) from last year’s 44-12 team.
“We will have to work hard to make up for the losses,” Glass said. “But I think those kids that fought through some of the old mindset last year left a legacy that Leland volleyball is returning to its former outlook.
“They believe that they can win.”
Newcomers to the varsity this season are senior Brooke Olesnavage (outside hitter), who transferred from Grand Traverse Academy, juniors Caitlin McKee (setter) and Noa Yaakoby (outside hitter/middle blocker) and sophomore Whitney Schaub (outside hitter).
“Our strength will be our blocking and our ability to attack effectively from all positions,” Glass said. “But it will be important for us to score on our serve and be a strong passing team.”
“In order to be good, you have to play people that are as good or better than you,” Glass said. “My goal is to be better by the end of the year.
“Along the way, we have to play people that will beat us up and show us our weaknesses.”
The Norse, who have dropped down to Class D this fall, have 11 varsity players.
Coach Laurie LaCross has three senior returning starters back from last year’s 15-30-5 team including Larissa Hunter (middle hitter), Kailey Capron (outside hitter) and Chantal Konopka (libero).
“Larissa is able to play all around and is a good leader and co-captain,” LaCross said. “And I expect her to be the strongest hitter and blocker.”
Konopka, another co-captain, will play libero this season.
“Chantel should control our back row,” LaCross said. “She passes well and is a good motivator on the court.”
Capron will also be counted on up front.
“Kailey is a strong hitter and I expect her to be a strong at the net and be a versatile player,” LaCross aid.
Senior Angela Hernandez (middle back) also returns. The Norse have also
Second-year coach Liz Wodek is eager to improve upon last year’s 13-7 record.
“I hope we can finish the way we started last year,” said Wodek, whose co-op team was decimated by midseason injuries and illnesss. “We haven’t figured out the rotations, but we’ve got great team unity.”
The Wildcats will have 10 players on the varsity team this fall including five returning starters. They are seniors Nicole Falkiewicz (St. Mary) and Dylan Burguard and junior Megan Popp (St. Mary).
Burguard, a setter/outside hitter, is a strong backside hitter.
“She was amazing in the back, but we plan to use Dylan more up front and let her shine as a hitter,” Wodek said.
Falkiewicz, a middle hitter, will complement Burguard at the net while Popp will be used in many spots.
“Megan plays all over the place,” Wodek said. “She might be setting as well as hitting.
“She’s got good hands.”
Other returning players are senior Samantha Mork and sophomore Autumn Huck. Both back row players will also be moved to the front.
“Autumn is just very quick on her feet and she can see the floor,” Wodek said.
Four players are on varsity for the first time. Senior Rachel Thon, a hitter, and junior Kaelyn Tarsa, a back row specialist are from St. Mary. Back row specialist Ashley Kircherman and setter Fiona Muller are juniors from Northport. St. Mary junior Shayna Sumner, who blew out her knee in the summer, will start the season as a team manager.
“I’m looking forward to the new year,” Wodek said. “I can’t wait to see some of the returnees flourish.”
Wodek said having some size up front in Falkiewicz (5-8), Burgaurd (5-9) and Thon and Huck (both 5-7) should help the team this year.
“Our front row should be very strong and ready to complete and not be intimidated,” she said. “And I’m eager to start playing and seeing what our competition is.”
Ginny Clark has nine girls out for the varsity, but just one senior among three returnees.
“It’s a big rebuilding year for us,” said Clark, who has senior Sarah Scarbrough, junior Olivia Wiltjer and sophomore Jessica Lee (5-foot-8) back from last year’s 7-28 team.
Scarbrough, who in her third season, is a “fantastic passer with great hands,” said Clark, who plans to use the veteran as a passer or setter.
“We may run some 6-2 and have Sarah and Jessica both on the floor helping run the offense,” Clark added.
Clark has three freshman on the squad, Alex LaCross, Arden Braund and Christine Lund, and three sophomores in Morgan Weston, Corrine Gretzmacher and Brianna Kibbey.
“I’m super excited to have three freshman. They are talented and catch on really quick,” Clark said. “In four years, they’re going to be solid.”
The Lakers play Saturday in the Leland Invitational.
“The biggest strength is the team dynamics,” Clark said. “The girls really help each other out and play well together.
“And once we get them on the same page, they’ll do OK.”