The Blue Earth Area volleyball team welcomes back only three players with varsity experience an opportunity in coach Donna Nawrocki's eyes.
This year's varsity volleyball team will consist of 12 girls eight seniors and four juniors.
Three seniors Krista Hassing, Janessa Jahnke and Ashton Hendricksen will be the only players returning with previous varsity play this season.
Back row, left to right; Manager Jenna Hansen, Monica Krieger, Nicole Krinke, Ciarra Olson, Riley Mack, Ashton Hendrickson, Evie Leland. Front row left to right, Bethany Olson, Audrey McDonald, Megan Wirtjes, Krista Hassing, Janessa Jahnke, and Whitney Pirsig.
"These girls are knowledgeable and will be helpful to the whole team on the court,"?the coach says.
Hassing and Jahnke both play middle and Hendrickson was last year's defensive specialist.
The Buc coach is confident that these girls will provide good leadership to their teammates throughout the season.
Nawrocki also sees a lot of potential in the new players on the team and has them working hard toward a winning season.
"Our goal is always to win conference,"?she says. "We also hope to play well enough to be in sub-section at Gustavus and this year it's doable."
She has the players working on consistency with their game skills. Nawrocki hopes that the team will be able to expand their skill set throughout the season.
"We've been working on playing the girls in different positions,"?Nawrocki says. "It's exciting because we will have those options."
The Buccaneer volleyball team has already played two scrimmages, which have allowed them to work on their game play.
"We will be competitive in the conference this year,"?the coach says.
The Bucs will play their first game in Lake Crystal on Tuesday, Aug. 28.
This game, Nawrocki feels, will give the players an opportunity to work on their court presence and see what combinations are going to work for the team.
"Of course we're making our best effort to get the win,"?she says. "But, this first game is going to give us the chance to see where we're at as a team."
The team's first home game will take place on Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m.
The Bucs will go up against the Le Sueur-Henderson Giants.
Nawrocki looks forward to starting the season with the game against Le Sueur-Henderson.
"Playing them is like the measuring stick for the rest of our season,"?she says.
Le Sueur-Henderson is usually the top in the state, playing them gives the Bucs the chance to see how they measure up at the beginning of their season.
Since Le Sueur-Henderson usually goes to state, the BEA coach hopes to see them at the end of the season as well.
"That game will be the true test,"?the Buc coach says. "We hope to hit them again at the end of the year, too."
In the weeks leading up to their first game, the team has already shown improvement at practices.
"The first week of practice we condition," Nawrocki says. "That's when we get them back into the swing of things."
After the first week the girls hit their game skills hard, working on passing, serving and setting.
"We already see the newcomers pushing each other on the court,"?the Buc coach adds.
She has the girls out there learning every position and expects that will work to their advantage as the season progresses.
"It's exciting to have the options we do,"?Nawrocki says. "We are going to be very versatile out there on the court."
The Buc coach doesn't just notice an improvement in the players' game but also in their mindset on the court.
This combination of physical and mental improvement is what Nawrocki refers to as the team's volleyball IQ.
"I see the improvement every time they hit the court,"?she says.
The Bucs may have a small number of players with varsity experience but they show that are ready to get some wins this season.
"We have a great group of girls,"?Nawrocki says. "I'm excited to see their improvement in the sport throughout the season."