Having graduated Kory Hiebert and Courtney Berkholz, the mantle of senior leadership has been passed to Katie Flaming and Jennifer Raymond.
With her experience and skill, Flaming will be the team’s top hitter, but the Goessel offense will have a markedly different look without Hiebert and Berkholz.
“I think we’ve got a lot more well-rounded hitting than we’ve ever had,” coach Crysta Guhr said. “Last year we were one more one-dimensional with our one big girl in the middle. But we’re going to spread it around more this year.
“We’re going to make better use of our passing skills,” she added. “I think that’s a big plus.”
The team’s alignment will put sophomore setter Jessica Goertzen in a significant role.
“A setter is sort of the quarterback out there, and we’re excited to see her in that role,” Guhr said. “In practice, Katie is pretty intense. And on the court, Jessica is a good leader in that setter position.”
Flaming and sophomore Aspen Frey will play on the outside, with junior Rinda Duerksen stepping into the middle along with sophomore Karis Janzen.
“We’ve got some height,” Guhr said. “Not as much as last year, but I think we’re more athletic.”
Raymond is a defensive specialist and Karina Harvey will return to the libero position she occupied last year.
“We’re very young, with four sophomores in our rotation, but our two seniors have set high goals for the team,” Guhr said.
“Numbers-wise, we’re heavy on underclassmen, but we also have seven letter-winners,” she added. “The season looks promising.”
The Bluebirds will face a strong schedule again this year, according to Guhr.
“I’d put our schedule up against anyone in the state at our level, and I think (Class) 1A is just as demanding as 2A.
“To succeed against the top competition we’ll face, we’re going to have to be very aggressive on the attack—not just playing free balls over the net. And our blockers will have to do a good job to give our back line a chance to make the plays we’ll need.”
The Bluebirds opened their season Tuesday (Aug. 28) at Claflin. Their next matches will be Tuesday (Sept. 4) at Bennington.