Volleyball hopes to match last year
How does a team improve on an undefeated regular season and a second-place finish at the state tournament?
That’s the question facing Douglas High volleyball coach Jennifer DeJoseph.
The answer might seem obvious. Accomplishing the feat, however, will be anything but easy.
DeJoseph said it’s impossible to predict how tough the Tigers competition will be in the division, let alone in the zone or state.
“It’s hard to tell,” the coach said. “We have eight people back, and we are a completely different team. Last year, we were quick, explosive and experienced. This year, we have more height and the kids want to work so hard you can’t even get them out of the gym.
“It’s going to take a lot of work to get to the level we were at last year, but once we do, we’re going to be really, really tough.”
That group of returning players gives the Tigers a combination of talent and experience that should translate into victories on the court.
Senior Kaycee Green is entering her third year as the starter at the setter position.
“Kaycee has always been really talented and she’s a hard worker,” DeJoseph said. “She pushes herself and expects the best out of herself.
“She’s the perfect floor general. She’s probably my most vocal player.”
Lulu Sewell, a 5-10 senior, has been on the DHS varsity volleyball team since she was a sophomore. She played middle blocker last season, but will move to an outside-hitting position this year.
“Right now, Lulu is our most dominating player,” DeJoseph said. “She hits the ball better than anybody and she can jump really well. She’s a silent leader and people follow her example.”
Rebecca Rippee also returns for her third varsity season. The senior outside hitter didn’t start last season, but she made several key contributions.
“Rebecca is an awesome server,” DeJoseph said. “This year, I think she’s going to be a dominant player for us. She has a great personality, she’s fun to be around and she keeps us all grounded.”
Four players will battle for playing time at the middle hitting/blocking position. And all four are very talented, according to DeJoseph.
Senior Linzy Doherty is the shortest of the four middle players, but she has a good shot at earning the starting position, DeJoseph said.
Juniors Jessica Granat (6-2) and J.K. Koenig (6-0) and sophomore Darshaya Mustachio (6-2), the only sophomore on the varsity team, will give the Tigers height on the front line.
“Jessica started a few games as a sophomore,” DeJoseph said. “I expect for her to be really tough. Her blocking has been great.
“Darshaya is very athletic. It’s unusual for a sophomore to be able to put it all together as quickly as she has.
“And, technically, J.K. is the best middle player I have. She has great footwork, but injuries have held her back. I’m hoping she can step it up and compete for playing time this year. She came back in great shape.”
Junior Natalie Stratton is another player DeJoseph will be counting on this season. Stratton likely will start at the other outside hitting position.
“Natalie is going to be awesome,” DeJoseph said. “She’s grown and gotten stronger. She’s really competitive and she’s a great athlete to have on the team.”
Senior Crystal Soderman and juniors Michelle Roza, Stephanie Combs, Christi Burrell and Kim Givens will all help the Tigers in a variety of role situations, according to the coach.
“We are very team-oriented, competitive, positive, fun group to be around,” DeJoseph said. “And even though they have fun, they are winners and they want to go out and win.”
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