Coach: We could be a wild card
Blue Earth Area volleyball coach Donna Nawrocki has an interesting dilemna.
She has so many girls out this season she is unsure who is going to play at what position.
The Buccaneers have 42 girls out from grades 9-12. That is actually two less than last season.
However, nearly half the girls, 20 of them, are seniors and juniors and that is where the problems come in.
“We have a lot of girls to work with to fill the positions on varsity,” the coach says. “I spend a lot of time thinking about it all.”
It is a problem some other coaches would love to have.
Take the setter position for example.
The Bucs lost all-conference setter Ashley Olson to graduation last year.
Three girls are vying for the position for this season – Macy Henningsen, a senior and juniors Monica Krieger and Evie Leland. Leland is currently on the injured list.
“Or we could have a surprise one step up too,” Nawrocki says. “We have a lot of options.”
Besides Olson, the Bucs lost seniors Katie Krieger and Sydney Ristau.
However, they retain some powerful players from last year’s team.
Seniors Jenny Smith and Annmarie Hoyt are expected to lead the team. So is junior Krista Hassing. The three have a lot of varsity experience.
Senior Sara Warmka also saw some varsity playing time last year.
Junior Janessa Jahnke was also on the court at times and is expected to step up her game this year.
Other Buc seniors are Nicole Carr, Aaryn Frazier and Cassie Rauenhorst.
The junior list has 13 names on it.
Besides Hassing, Jahnke, Krieger and Leland, there is Megan Wirtjes, Whitney Pirsig, Riley Mack, Coraima Beccara, Ashton Hendrickson, Jenna Hansen, Bekah Sheldahl, Victoria Ellis and foreign exchange student Kim Heesch from Germany.
“All the girls are vying for spots on the varsity team,” Coach Nawrocki says. “That gives us a lot of options. We watch and determine who will fill the spots.”
The coach says she would like to have four squads again this year – varsity, junior varsity, B-squad and C-squad – but that has not been determined for sure at this time.
Brenda Smith will be coaching B-Squad and Sarah Albright the C-squad.
Despite being not sure of who will be playing in every position, Nawrocki is sure of one thing.
“We will be pretty competitive this season,” she says. “We had a conference scrimmage last week and we did pretty well.”
The coach says New Ulm has some good girls returning to their squad and Fairmont looks good as well. St. James might be the sleeper team in the conference, Nawrocki says.
“But, I feel we can be contending with all of them,” she says. “We could be the wild card team.”
The Bucs open the season on Tuesday, Aug. 30 with a home match against Lake Crystal. They follow that up with a match at Le Sueur-Henderson on Thursday, Sept. 1.
“They (Le Sueur-Henderson) are always a dominant team,” Nawrocki says. “It will be a big test for us.”
While winning is important to the Buccaneer volleyball coach, she also feels that volleyball should be fun for the girls who are out for the sport.
“They are high school athletes,” she notes. “Only a few of them are going to be good enough to move on and play at the college level. So I like to make their time here a little fun.”
To do that, Nawrocki has instituted a tradition at her practices called “Fun Fridays.”
“We do some fun games on Fridays instead of the usual conditioning drills,” she says. “The girls really love it.”
In the past they have played some games based on TV shows such as “Survivor” and “Minute to Win It.”
“I feel like we need to have a little fun with our volleyball team,” Nawrocki says. “But, that doesn’t mean we are not serious about being a contender in the conference.”