Coach Hoener shows a little excitement after Taylor Covington makes a nice dig during practice.
By Kyle Quick.
New Haven is coming off their third straight 20 win season after a disappointing two set loss to Valley Catholic in last year's district title match, 25-18, 25-21. While the Lady Rocks have a large void to fill after graduating three time All-State senior Kelsey Pecaut, who lead the team in service points, attempts, aces, kills, and digs, Head Coach Jaime Hoener expressed little concern.
"We still have Rachel Steinhoff and Emily Kallmeyer back to handle serve receive and attacking wise I think we are more balanced," Honer said. New Haven will have a strong presence at the net with 6'1'' Olivia Fleer and 5'11'' Taylor Covington, who started as a sophomore last year, smashing 161 kills. (Second behind Pecaut's 164)
Last year JV setter Mackenzy Vedder helped lead the team to one of the best records in school history and Friday Vedder, now a junior, will make her first varsity start where Coach Hoener plains on having Vedder set "all the way around."
One thing New Haven will have compared to years past is depth. "We have three setters, three middle hitters, three outside hitters, three left angles, and three middle backs," giving Hoener plenty of options.
While Hoener is happy with their depth New Haven has a few players banged up and one who is questionable when she will return. Junior Katie Peirick was forced to have knee surgery over the summer and while she has been cleared to practice no time frame has been set for her return. Peirick most likely would have been one of New Haven's starting outside hitters.
Tessa Kelsick doing box jumps during conditioning to end practice.
Heading into Friday's match at Father Tolton Catholic, we asked coach Hoener what she felt was the teams biggest strength and one area that needed the most improvement.
Honer said, "I want us to be better on serve receive, it should be money every time. I realize there are good servers out there but we should be able to pass the ball to our setter for a three option pass every time."
"Aggressiveness at the net I think is our biggest strength right now. I've talked to the girls about how they are too passive at times and I've notice Olivia [Fleer] especially being a lot more aggressive the net, where as last year if it was a ball tight at the net she'd shy away from it and this year she trying to pound it which is good. But she's also trying to think if the ball came from that way and there's nobody over here, 'I need to hit it over there.' All the girls are trying to be smarter players also."
On paper New Haven probably has one of the most talented teams from top to bottom since winning state in 2005. New Haven's depth is one of their biggest strengths and could easily be the difference between losing or winning a match. Depth also gives New Haven the ability to quickly change their game plain midway through a set.
There is one thing that all great teams have in common, a spark plug or role player, someone who may get a lot of playing time and because momentum is such a key component in volleyball, one play can easily change the outcome of a set or match.
My preseason spark plug picks are Meghan Brown and Tessa Kelsick, both are defensive specialist but there is something about both of them and the energy that their simple presence on the court brings.
Points of emphasis:
Seniors Emily Kallmeyer and Rachel Steinhoff have the most experience playing in high pressure situations and will be the ones their teammates look too for answers and I have expect them to have career best seasons.
When it comes down to it the difference between winning and losing is so small, the teams that win are those who are mentally tough and a will to win. This year's team has already shown how hard they are willing to work in the off season and so far in practice but I personally think that each player cares about one thing and one thing only, winning and the only stat they care about is the final score.
From watching them in practice and how hard they work and most importantly seem to be forming a team bond, which is what it takes to achieve their goal.
It should be a fun ride this year and you can count on QuickNewsNow to keep you updated all season long.