FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: Defensive mentality to carry Fairfield on courtDiers trying to mold a green roster for 2014
The Fairfield volleyball team will not look the same this season as it has in recent years.
Volleyball fans have gotten used to height around the net and long-term starters putting up impressive numbers. The team graduated 10 players, four of which filled huge roles for the Trojans. Sydney Burnett, Fairfield’s all-time leader in assists with 1,310 of them, is gone. Marisa Repp, who led the team in kills in 2013 with 240 and is ninth on the school’s all-time kill list, is gone. Back row player Cheyanne Laux, who is third in school history in digs, is gone. Hannah Greiner, whose intimidating presence was felt at the net last year with her 180 kills and 50 blocks, is gone.
Now, those who watched the stars of yesterday must form together to write their own history. This team isn’t blessed with a great amount of height and experience; therefore, according to 29-year coach Nancy Diers, it’ll have to win with defense and grit.
Senior Alexis Ring will likely start at setter. Ring has been battling back injuries since her sophomore year, so preventative medicine like icing and stretching is important for her to stay healthy.
“Ring does an incredible job of communicating with the team,” Diers said. “She’s a very intelligent volleyball player.”
Ring will be backed up by Kelsey Roberts, who went from the third string setter all the way up to a starter last season because of injuries and her high level of play. She finished first on the team last year with 365 assists, so the Trojans will have no problem going two-deep at this position.
Junior Molly Ryan will inherit the middle hitter spot. One of the few Trojans with a height advantage, Ryan smacked down 58 kills last year in limited playing time.
“Molly consistently got better each match last season,” Diers said. “She’ll have more responsibilities this year and she’ll need to be more aggressive at the net.”
Madison Roberts will take over at outside hitter. Much like Ring, she has battled injuries. She’ll attempt to keep her knee comfortable this season so she can stay in the lineup. In the back row, junior Mackenzie Flattery will start as a defensive specialist.
“She’ll need to continue to read the ball and pick out where the opponent is trying to hurt us,” Diers said. “Her and the other starters will have to step up to begin with so the other kids can work to fill in and find their niche.”
The rest of the starting lineup will play itself out over the next couple weeks. Senior Jolea Burkhart will see time as a back row defender who can bring speed and smarts to the court. Mackenzi Harwood will play more of a utility spot because she is competent in different spots. Delaney Neil will be in the rotation as a middle hitter.
“[Neil’s] a nice player who just needs to see time on the varsity court,” Diers said. “Tempo will be her struggle in the beginning, but she’ll get used to the tempo of our offense and get involved in the game.”
Underclassman Natalie Angstead, Brooke McClain, Kaylee Watson and Shelby Heston will also see playing time on a team that in Diers’s words, “needs to realize that they’re the main event now.”
“These girls were so supportive of the players that came before them,” Diers said. “But they need to realize that [younger] players are looking to them now. We’ve made huge strides but they need to have confidence in themselves.”
The gym is quieter than it has been in recent years because the team is still searching for its boisterous leader. The strength of the team will have to be its aggressiveness, its confidence, and its willingness not to let the ball hit the ground. Serving, smart play and determination will be essential for the Trojans to have success in a conference that is getting consistently better from top to bottom.
“For the first three or fours weeks, defense will have to be our strength until we have the confidence to attack offensively,” Diers said. “It’s not because we’re not capable of hitting, we’re just not seasoned yet.”
Fairfield will start Thursday with the Steve Heisel Quad at home against Albia, IMS and Eddyville-Blakesburg.
2014 Fairfield Volleyball Varsity Schedule
8/28 Steve Hisel Quad
9/4 @ Mt Pleasant
9/11 vs. Washington
9/13 @ Burlington Notre Dame Invite
9/20 @ Ottumwa Invite
9/23 @ Keokuk
9/27 .@ Burlington Invite
9/30 vs. Fort Madison
10/7 vs. Mt Pleasant
10/11 @ Oskaloosa Tournament
10/14 @ Washington
10/18 Fairfield Tournament
10/21 vs. Keokuk
10/23 @ Fort Madison
10/27 Class 4A Regionals
Southeast Conference 2013 Standings
Team, Conference Record, Overall Record
Mt. Pleasant 8-0 29-5
Fairfield 5-3 20-15
Fort Madison 5-3 19-22
Keokuk 1-7 4-21
Washington 1-7 5-25
Head Coach: Nancy Diers, 29th year
Key Returnees: MH Molly Ryan (Jr.), OH Madison Roberts (Sr.), S Alexis Ring (Sr.), S Kelsey Roberts (Jr.), MB Mackenzie Flattery