Waukon volleyball team led by letterwinning trio, large senior class in 2015

Left to right - Front row: Rylee Einck, Lauren Elliott, Leslie Sivesind, Regan Wasson, Madison Snitker, Kaley Benzing. Back row: Bethany Stock, Brooklyn Larson, Kaela Wood, Kortney Wood, Brytnee Bednarski, Brigid Berns. Not pictured: Jessica Sholes, Rachel Kucera.

The Waukon volleyball team will return just three varsity letterwinners from last season, graduating nine seniors from a squad that posted a 16-22 record last season. Although that senior class was one of the largest in recent memory, third-year Waukon volleyball head coach Peyton Lapel will be welcoming an even larger group of upperclassmen this year, as 11 seniors have reported for early-season practice thus far.
Just two of that large senior class return with varsity letterwinning experience, as setter Leslie Sivesind and right side hitter Madison Snitker headline that group of veterans. Junior middle hitter Regan Wasson returns as the Tribe netters’ only multi-year letterwinner, returning for her third consecutive season of varsity volleyball and bringing with her a team-high 14 solo blocks in her total of 51, along with a team runner-up 158 kills from last year. Sivesind and Snitker return with last season’s second- and third-leading assist totals of 161 and 109 helps.
“It is common to see leadership from all seniors and I anticipate that happening this season as well,” Coach Wacker said. “We also have a few younger players who will bring great amounts of energy and leadership to our team.”
This year’s team will have to replace leadership statistical numbers taken away by graduation, including the loss of one of the most prolific all-around players in recent Waukon volleyball history in Allie Schwartz, who led the Indians with 313 assists, 48 ace serves and 203 kills last season and finished her career within the top 10 in all three of those all-time statistical lists for Waukon volleyball. Fellow graduated senior Thea Meyer also took with her team-high statistics of 306 digs as the Tribe’s libero last season and the Indians’ best serving percentage in each of the last two seasons. Both girls received the Indians’ only All-Conference honors for their efforts last season.
“We have a couple big holes to fill from last season, but I am confident the girls coming up will be able to fill those places well,” Coach Wacker speculated. “A few young faces, ninth and 10th graders, will be of great benefit to our varsity squad.”
The overall meshing of the large upperclassman group combined with anticipated contributions from underclassmen provides the third-year head coach cautious optimism as the new season gets set to unfold. “We have great energy and team chemistry, valuable experience from returning letterwinners, strong attackers, and smart players; they know the court well and make smart moves,” Coach Wacker said of the strengths of this season’s squad. “We hope to be running a faster offense than in the past, staying on our feet on defense and keep a solid team chemistry.”
The most evident shortcoming of this season’s team is simply a continuation of the same volleyball advantage the Indians have not enjoyed for several years, according to Coach Wacker. “We are lacking height in a few areas, but nothing that will be detrimental to our success,” she said.
Based on what she’s seen so far in this season’s early going, Coach Wacker has some season standards in mind that she would like to see her charges achieve this season, both generally and more specifically. “As a coach, my goal for our team is to play to our best ability at all times, be as competitive as possible, and have fun,” she said. “We also hope to have a winning record on the season and to repeat last year’s success in winning the Waukon Tournament.”
Hoping to improve on their sixth-place finish in the Northeast Iowa Conference with a 1-6 league mark from last season, the Indians will have their hands full once again in a conference that always seems to be volleyball strong. “I anticipate our conference to be fairly competitive, as usual,” Coach Wacker shared. “New Hampton will most likely have a quick, scrappy team again, and Waverly has some younger girls with varsity experience that will be competing again this year. I know Charles City graduated some great players (one who went Division I at Iowa State University), but I anticipate them to have a strong team again, and Decorah, Oelwein and Cresco usually have some great height to compete against.”
The Indians will get their 2015 season underway with two home dates this week, Tuesday, September 1 against Postville and Thursday, September 3 against Crestwood, before playing in the Mabel-Canton Tournament Saturday, September 5 in Minnesota.
“I am very excited for the competitiveness our team will bring this season and looking forward to some great volleyball!” Coach Wacker summarized.