De Soto’s first-year head volleyball coach spent a lot of time on the courts and diamonds of the Ridge and Valley before she graduated in 2005. Now the former Ashley Malin is Mrs. Wateski — she is a teacher at the high school — and Coach Wateski, moving up from JV to varsity head volleyball coach.
Wateski predicts “lots of eagerness toward volleyball.” She adds that, “The excitement and dedication that was demonstrated in the off-season will hopefully jump start this program into a winning season.”
As always, talent lost to graduation comes into play in seniors Ava Brosinski (Ridge and Valley All Conference), Lila Tully (Best Defensive Player and Conference Honorable Mention), Hannah Skau, Taylor Olson (Leadership Award), Jenna Krzewinski (Conference Honorable Mention), Leah Meyer, and Kayla Hermeier.
Wateski says her top returning player is senior Rachel Gianoli (Best Offensive Player and Ridge and Valley Conference Sportsmanship Award). “Rachel is most likely going to be the lone senior,” says Wateski. “Rachel is our big middle hitter. She is an excellent leader, outstanding athlete, and academically at the top of her class. She has worked hard to get where she is and has a tremendous amount of potential this year,” says Wateski.
Wateski predicts that her team’s strengths will be “The hard work that this bunch will be willing to put in. They want to win and understand that it takes many skills to become successful on the court, not just be a great hitting team.” Wateski adds that, “They understand their weaknesses already and are highly focused on improving that skill set as a team.”
He said her most important advice to the players is focused around on serve/receive with passing. “If we cannot pass the volleyball successfully, we cannot set and therefore we cannot hit,” says Wateski. She adds that, “When I played, my favorite part was hitting, same for many of my players, but I am reminding them that we need to be highly focused on that first pass so that the rest can happen.” She hopes to work with the team about “becoming more mentally prepared while in a game and making better choices while on the court.”
The JV coach is Sarah Fruit.