Viroqua’s head volleyball coach Katie Schwarz essentially has a completely new team this year because all of the varsity starters from last season graduated.
The team, which had a record of 6-16 last year, only has three returning varsity players, with graduating nine seniors last season. The varsity starters included outside hitter Ashlee Gander who was all conference honorable mention.
“We will look for our juniors to step up and fill a lot of positions,” Schwarz said. “We will need to work on consistency this year, particularly behind the service line and reduce unforced errors to gain an edge on our taller competitors. Volleyball is such a game of momentum, so teaching our girls to be able to play disciplined and focused throughout the match will be key to minimizing other teams runs and maximizing our own.”
“We have one senior this season which is a first for me as a coach,” Schwarz said. “Brianna Carmen is our sole senior but she will be joined by fellow teammates from last season, juniors Morgan Gander and Jessica Tryggestad. There will be nine additional juniors making their varsity debut who will be looking to fill the shoes of the exiting seniors.”
What does the coach see at the team’s strengths this season? “This group of girls have been playing together since middle school; with 11 juniors and one senior they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses well.”
Where are the team’s weaknesses and biggest challenges? “We do not have a lot of varsity experience but have been playing all summer in a varsity league and tournaments to try to gain every edge that we can. We will be a little undersized in the Coulee this year but we are working on other ways to adjust against the taller competition.”
Schwarz, who has coached for 14 years, said the team motto is “Compete!” “It is something that we strive to do every point of every match. We often are undersized compared to our competition but we can be scrappy and find other ways to stay in games.”
Schwarz said top contenders for the Coulee Conference include Arcadia and Westby. “Arcadia has a strong group of returners and Westby has some young talent that could have potential to step up.”
Assistant coaches this year are Haley Ostrem, junior varsity, and Kat Mannel, C-Team.