Rugby volleyball short but scrappy
In recent years, the Rugby volleyball team has had the luxury of having some height at the net to both intimidate and defend the opponents’ hitting game.
This year, the Panthers will have to rely on scrappiness and athleticism.
“We’re not going to be as strong at the net as we usually are,” head coach Jessica Fritz said. “We lost a lot of height to either graduation or moving or other sports. We’re really going to struggle in that department. We’re going to have to get really scrappy in the back row. We’re not going to have the blocks that we had in the past years that the girls are used to. We’re going to have to be scrappier than we have in years. We’ve been working on that in practice, because our tallest girl on the roster is listed as 5-foot-10, but realistically, is 5-foot-8.”
Senior setter Allison Volk said the team should be able to overcome the height disadvantage with team cohesiveness.
“We’re going to have to be a lot more scrappy and go after everything,” she said. “Our team is really close this year so we know how everybody plays. We know what everyone’s good in.”
Volk, a senior, returns as the starting setter and brings plenty of experience.
“It is really nice to return a setter,” Fritz said. “That’s one of the hardest positions to fill. We’ve been lucky enough the last three years to have a setter that knows. It’s going to take be different for her to adjust to different girls, but this group has put in a lot of time over the summer.”
After graduating some notable hitters and losing Taylor Wangerin, whose family moved, the Panthers will have a new batch of hitters.
“In our hitting department, we’re looking at Emily Stier,” Fritz said. “She got to play a little bit toward the end of last year, but she’s improved quite a bit. Cassandra Jaeger, we’re going to move her to a lot of different spots. She’s so versatile. Helen (Johnson) has had injuries, but she’s hitting really well now.”
Volk said setting to shorter hitters shouldn’t be an issue.
“It’s probably easier setting them,” she said. “They like it a little quicker and higher. They can all jump pretty high.”
Jaeger said the team put in a lot of time at camps and playing this summer, and that should give them an edge.
“Everyone’s played together on varsity level pretty much,” she said. “All of the girls are really athletic and can jump really high. They can get to the ball any time they need. We’ve done a lot of conditioning to get there.”
Fritz pointed to Bishop Ryan as the team to beat in the region. Unlike Rugby, the Lions have height all over the floor.
“Bishop Ryan, their shortest person is 5-8,” Fritz said. “We’ve been lucky enough we can compete with that. We don’t have that this year.”
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