Volleyball: On the attackThose who have watched Farmington volleyball over the last two years should be very familiar with the Tiger players who will be doing the spiking this fall. The players doing the bumping and setting could be a different story.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
Those who have watched Farmington volleyball over the last two years should be very familiar with the Tiger players who will be doing the spiking this fall. The players doing the bumping and setting could be a different story.
The Tigers, coming off the first two 20-win seasons in the program’s history, will be looking to replace seven seniors from last year’s roster. Among them are libero Kirstee Rotty, the school’s all-time leader with over 2,000 career digs, and setter Breanna Guzek, who piled up 735 set assists in her first varsity season a year ago.
“I feel very comfortable with our attackers, the question is who will be setting them up,” said coach Mike Woody, who has led the team to a 58-23 record in three seasons at the helm.
Woody said the leading candidate to take over the libero spot is junior Alexia Rains, who had 168 digs and 207 serve receives while playing in the back row last season. Defensive specialist Elizabeth Pappenfus will also see time in the back row, but the setter position is still up for grabs. Woody said four players are still competing to earn playing time at the critical position.
“It’s never been more wide open,” he said. “Usually that’s one position where you know what you have.”
In the front row, the Tigers know exactly what they have. With the combination of outside hitter Danielle Dombeck and middle hitter Katie Habeck, they have a 1-2 punch that combined for over 600 kills and 200 blocks last season. Woody expects the pair of returning all-Missota Conference performers to serve as a good example both on and off the court.
“I think the leadership that these girls will bring this year will be very important to our success,” he said. “I expect them to put the team on their shoulders when necessary.”
Habeck, now a junior, was among the state leaders in blocks with 185 last season. She also led the team with 339 kills. Dombeck added 290 kills, but also played in the back row where she provided a 317 digs and 362 serve receptions.
Other players Woody expects to make an impact in the front row include Lauren McHenry (101 kills last season) and Jordan Bridges. A host of other returning JV players will also battle for varsity playing time.
The Tigers finished 20-6 last season, earning second in the Missota Conference at 5-2 before bowing out to Rochester Mayo for the third straight year in the Section 1AAA semifinals. Woody said he isn’t concerned with another 20-win season as much as he is with seeing his team improve during a tough regular season schedule that includes early games against Lakeville South and Rosemount, as well as the Burnsville Tournament in October.
“Whether or not we get to 20 wins is irrelevant, as long as we are ready to compete at our highest level during the post season,” he said. “Every loss teaches a team and an athlete something about themselves. Hopefully we have learned things that will help us perform better when we get to (the section tournament) this season.”