Tomah High School girls volleyball coach Sarah Walters describes her 2019 squad as a versatile group that loves the game of volleyball.
“They’re unselfish as to where they see themselves playing,” Walters said. “Their attitude is, ‘If that’s what we need, that’s where they’ll play.’”
Walters believes the team-first approach will serve the Timberwolves well as they launch their Mississippi Valley Conference season with a trip to Sparta Tuesday, Sept. 3 with the home opener two days later against Holmen. The Timberwolves hope to improve on last season’s 4-8 MVC record with a group that includes three seniors, seven juniors and one freshman. Six are returning letterwinners.
The most versatile of the group is two-year letterwinner Lily Redcloud, a senior who moves to libero after spending her sophomore season as a varsity setter and her junior season as a hybrid setter/spiker. She’ll fill the shoes of Madisyn Brey, a second-team all-conference MVC performer last season.
“She has played libero at the club level, and she really likes that position,” Walters said. “She has a great understanding of the game of volleyball. She sees defenses well and isn’t afraid to hit the floor.”
Walters said Redcloud’s setting duties will be filled by senior Courtney Leis.
“She’s a super positive presence for us,” Walters said. “The setters lead our offense, and our libero leads the defense.”
The only other senior is Savannah Murphy, who returns as the Timberwolves’ top outside hitter. Walters said Murphy’s game has evolved during the past year.
“Last year she told me, ‘I know I need to do more than hit really hard,’” Walters said. “She has a few more tricks in her back pocket now.”
The three other returning letterwinners are juniors Jenna Tracy (middle hitter), Alyssa Whaley (middle hitter) and Ella Plueger (setter). They will be joined by senior newcomers Jaylin Rezin (defensive specialist), Abby Nick (middle/right-side hitter), Dannika Koput (outside hitter) and Samantha Shamhart (right-side hitter).
Walters said her junior class has played a lot of volleyball.
“The ones who are coming back have multiple years of volleyball experience,” Walters said. “They all have a great knowledge of volleyball.”
Freshman Lauren Noth, an outside hitter, is expected to split time between varsity and varsity reserve.
With just 10 athletes on the full-time varsity roster, Walters said all of them can expect playing time.
Walters believes the Timberwolves can contend for a conference championship.
“We can be at the top of the conference,” Walters said. “We have the capability of doing it; it’s just a matter of putting it together. They like to have fun, and they really love the game of volleyball. They’re hard workers.”
Final 2018 standings