Waukon volleyball team returns five letterwinners for 2014 campaign

Left to right - Front row: Leslie Sivesind, Katelyn Kolsrud, Thea Meyer, Katie Kerndt, Allie Schwartz, Sam Swartz. Back row: Kaley Benzing, Madison Snitker, Nicole Heitman, Jackie Welch, Kelsey Cota, Hope Manning, Regan Wasson. Not pictured: Callie Thorson.

The 2014 Waukon volleyball team will look to improve on a 9-25-4 overall record posted by last year’s squad in its first year under the guidance of head coach Peyton Wacker. Now in her second year at the helm and newly married, Coach Peyton Lapel will see the return of five varsity letterwinners from last year’s crew that also finished sixth in the final Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC) standings with a 1-6 record, along with a large group of 10 seniors that will make up a majority of this fall’s 14 team members in this season’s early-going.
Four of those five returning letterwinners also headline that large senior class, including two-year letterwinners Allie Schwartz and Jackie Welch and first-year letterwinners Katelyn Kolsrud and Thea Meyer. Sophomore Regan Wasson rounds out the list of returning letterwinners from last season, making considerable contributions and gaining valuable experience as a middle hitter for the Tribe as just a freshman last fall.
Coach Lapel lists those five returning letterwinners and “great team chemistry” as the greatest strengths of this season’s team. Those strengths will be combined with what she sees as this year’s keys to a successful season - team speed and intelligence - to help overcome the team’s overall lack of height at the net this season.
“We lack height, but I believe we will make up for that with our quickness and smart playing,” Coach Lapel said. “I can anticipate strong leadership from all of the girls. Thus far, they have all shown great enthusiasm for their team and the sport.”
Within that returning varsity letterwinning leadership also comes a considerable amount of statistical leadership from last season. Despite the graduation of eight seniors from last fall’s squad, each of this season’s returning veterans brings back with her some top-end statistical numbers from last fall.
Schwartz provided some all-around numerical leadership with team highs last season of 185 kills, 53 ace serves and 296 assists, with Welch second on last season’s team with 123 winners at the net. Meyer paced the Tribe’s serving efficiency with a .957 serving percentage that featured just four missed serves on the season, with Kolsrud bringing back the team’s second highest digs total with 114. Wasson also paced last season’s team with 19 solo blocks in her second-place total of 37 overall blocks.
It will be that veteran experience that will be looked to in pursuit of this season’s goals. “Develop a team of strong competitors, and have fun and improve throughout the season to advance in the postseason,” Coach Lapel listed as this season’s desired achievements.
The second-year head coach also looks for an improvement in where her team will finish in the final Northeast Iowa Conference standings in comparison to last season. “I think we have the potential to place third in the conference,” she explained. “Looking at last year’s results, the couple matches that we lost that were tight matches could go either way this year. I think these girls are very determined and dedicated to make that goal  and improvement happen.”
Prior to beginning that pursuit of NEIC improvement, the Indians will have some non-conference tune-ups to start this season’s schedule, including their season-opening Mabel-Canton Tournament this Saturday, August 30. Non-conference matches will be played at Postville, Tuesday, September 2, and at MFL/MarMac, Monday, September 8, before the Indians open both their home and NEIC season Tuesday, September 9 against Decorah.