Spartan girls scramble to prepare for start of 2008 volleyball seasonA sense of urgency hangs in the gym at Superior High School. Little more than a week and a half from its first day of practice, the Spartan volleyball team will open Lake Superior Conference play tonight in a road game at Proctor.
By: Emily Kram, The Daily Telegram
A sense of urgency hangs in the gym at Superior High School. Little more than a week and a half from its first day of practice, the Spartan volleyball team will open Lake Superior Conference play tonight in a road game at Proctor.
“We’re starting a week later this year because of the WIAA rules, so it seems like we’re a little more rushed,” said Lindsay Braman, head coach of the Spartans. “It seems like we’re just kind of scrambling.”
Meanwhile, Superior’s LSC competition across the bridge has a slight edge. Volleyball teams in Minnesota were able to begin practice earlier than those in Wisconsin, so while the Spartans were holding tryouts, some Minnesota teams were already playing in scrimmages.
Braman doesn’t think the extra week of practice will be an advantage for Minnesota LSC teams in the long run, but early in the season the Spartans may have to play catch-up.
“It makes it more intense for us right now,” Braman said. “But I think we’ll catch up eventually.”
Braman is entering her second year as the head coach of the Spartans. Serving as assistant coaches this year are Cayla Rozowski, Susan Bombich, Lori Keute and Ashlee Olson.
“It’s really helped to have extra helping hands around,” Braman said.
Last season SHS finished with a 3-6 record in the LSC and an 8-20 record overall. Braman said the team hopes to improve upon that record this year.
“We are excited about the season and challenging ourselves to improve our record,” Braman said. “We are looking to develop our hitting and all around play at the net. We plan to be strong within our conference.”
The Spartans lost three starters from last year’s team: left hitters Ashlee Olson and Amber Callaway and setter Sara Strand.
Eight seniors are on the team this year, six of them returning. Christa Diedrich is the lone junior on the team this season.
“We have a smaller squad this year,” Braman said. “I think that has led to more closeness. A lot of these girls have known each other since elementary school. They have a lot of friendships on the team and positive attitudes.”
Caitlin Keute, a setter and right hitter, is expected to be one of the top players on the team this year. Keute led the Spartans last season in service aces and was also a leader in set assists. She was named to the LSC All-Conference second team in 2007.
“I’m very excited. It should be a good season for us,” Keute said. “We’ve got a good team that should be able to play against conference teams.”
The LSC should be strong again this year with Ashland and Cloquet likely to lead the conference.
Hermantown, always a top contender in the LSC, will also be a tough match for Superior.
The Spartans are also scheduled to play a non-conference game against Hibbing, which is well-known for its strong volleyball squads.
“We’re playing Hibbing for the first time, which will be fun,” Keute said. “Hibbing’s a good team and it will be a good experience for us to play them.”
A lack of height was a concern for SHS last season, and the Spartans have similar concerns this year.
“We actually have a taller (team), but we’re still fairly short,” Braman said.
Diedrich, a junior, is one of the tallest players at 5-foot-10, so the Spartans still won’t have a height advantage against most teams this season.
Rather than relying on height, the Spartans plan to use their athleticism and speed to outplay opponents.
The team worked hard in the Bigger, Faster, Stronger program over the offseason, with a few players added inches to their vertical.
Braman said the Spartans are hoping to develop a quicker game and stronger blocking this year.
Even when SHS is outmatched in terms of height, Braman feels the players can level the playing field by using well-developed technique.
Kara Hoff, a senior, thought Superior should have an edge when serving this season.
“We’re all pretty good at serving,” she said. “Right now we’re all working on float serving, so we’ll have a similar serve and will be able to help each other.”
The seniors that make up the team have been helping each other for some time now. According to Hoff, the group of seniors have been together on the same team for at least two or three years with many also playing together in the spring.
The players know each others strengths and weaknesses, but the group is still trying to find the best combination of player on the floor.
“At this point in the season, we are still exploring what our best fit is as a team,” Braman said. “We are looking forward to seeing our team develop.”
Amy Schweikert and Sarah Ann Johnson are the Spartans’ middle hitters. Competing for a place as a left side hitter are Diedrich, Taylor Kosey and Caitlin Vaughan.
Keute and Kasey Levine may alternate as setters along with Hoff, who may also play libero. Emily Eisenmann is the team’s other defensive specialist.
No matter who is on the floor, Hoff know the player will give their best effort.
“Most of us are seniors, so we want to be the best we can be,” Hoff said. “We’re all pretty confident that we have a good team this year.”
Spartan Varsity Roster
1. Caitlin Keute S/RH 12
2. Caitlin Vaughan LH 12
4. Kara Hoff S/DS 12
6. Amy Schweikert MH 12
8. Kasey Levine S 12
9. Sarah Ann Johnson MH 12
10. Emily Eisenmann L/DS 12
11. Taylor Kosey LH 12
13. Christa Diedrich LH 11
2008 SHS Volleyball Schedule
Aug. 28 at Proctor, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Ashland, 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 vs. Cloquet, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Hudson Invite, 10 a.m.
Sept. 16 at Hibbing, 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at Duluth Central, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Northwestern Inv., 9 a.m.
Sept. 23 vs. Marshall, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Marshall Invite, 9 a.m.
Sept. 30 at Duluth Denfeld, 7:15 p.m.
Oct. 2 at Rice Lake, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Hermantown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 vs. Proctor, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 vs. Duluth East, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at BRC Invite - EC North
Oct. 23 WIAA Regional Semi
Oct. 25 WIAA Regional Final
Oct. 30 WIAA Sectional Semi
Nov. 1 WIAA Sectional Final
Nov. 6-8 WIAA State at Green Bay