Experience = High expectations
Although they could be considered a young team, the Blue Earth Area girls volleyball team has experience and some lofty goals.
After a scrimmage with conference teams last week, Head Coach Donna Lee is enthusiastic.
“We were pretty equal with most of the teams there,” she says. “I think if we battle hard we could be one of the teams at the top of the conference.”
That statement comes despite the fact she lost five seniors to graduation off of last year’s team, and only has two seniors on this year’s squad.
Those two have a lot of skill and experience, however. This will be Danika Stindtman’s fourth year as a starting hitter, and Kirsten Johansen is the experienced setter for the Bucs.
A strong group of juniors will be adding depth to the team, including Kate Hassing, Morgan Dickman and Mariah Cooke. Other juniors are Audrey Schmidtke, Hayley Pirsig and Carrie Stebakken.
Sophomores Sydney Ristau and Maddie McDonald stepped up to varsity play last year and are expected to help out a lot this year, Lee says. Theresa Claeys is also on the varsity, as is freshman Jenny Smith.
“Our one blow to the team is having sophomore Ashley Olson injured and missing play this year,” Coach Lee says.
Despite being just a freshman last year, Olson was the librero (back row defensive specialist). She tore the ACL in her knee in summer basketball play and is out for the season..
“Ashley will be our manager this year, but we will miss her volleyball skills,” Lee says. “We will have other girls step up to fill that spot.”
Coach Lee has another reason to be optimistic about the season. She has two new assistant coaches.
Normally that might be a concern, but not in this case. Both are former head girls volleyball coaches at BEA.
Brenda Smith is the B-squad coach, and Dar Holmseth is coaching C-squad.
The team has been working on conditioning drills, and practices run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There are 36 girls out for volleyball this year, including one exchange student.
“The girls are getting excited for the season to start,” Lee says.
The first match is set for today, Monday, Aug. 25 at Lake Crystal.
“We play both New Ulm and Fairmont in the first two weeks,” Lee says. She expects those two teams to be leaders in the conference.
As far as the section goes, Jordan should once again be a powerhouse.
“They usually contend for the state each year,” Lee says, “And this year is not any different.”
Le Sueur-Henderson is another strong team in the section. Both are in BEA’s half of the section.
Of course, Lee thinks the Buccaneers will be contenders as well.
“We have a great group of girls and they have been a lot of fun at practice,” Lee says. “They should have a great year.”
Lee says she wasn’t sure what to expect from the team, but after the pre-season scrimmage she can see a lot of potential.
She is also pleased with a nice looking group of freshman girls. They will be a strong C-squad for Holmseth to coach, Lee says.
“Things look good for the future of volleyball here at BEA,” she says with a big smile.