Volleyball: Red Wing starts anewRed Wing volleyball head coach Heidi Ulwelling will begin her tenure with a nearly entirely new varsity lineup.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing volleyball head coach Heidi Ulwelling will begin her tenure with a nearly entirely new varsity lineup.
The Wingers graduated 11 seniors from last year and just three players return with varsity experience. So far it’s been a learning experience for the players because of a new coach and the adjustment to the varsity level.
Seniors Macy Kelly, McKenna Schaffer and Abby Johnson are the team’s three captains and the three returners. There are seven seniors on the varsity roster while the rest will come in as sophomores, freshmen or eighth-graders.
“Skill-wise we have a lot to work on,” Ulwelling said. “The skill level, because there wasn’t a whole lot of playing time for them will pick up. They’re ball control is getting much, much better. Their knowledge of the game is increasing, which is good.”
Ulwelling has put the team through a rigorous practice schedule, which includes two-a-days. Those two-a-days aren’t all work on the court. Ulwelling holds 90-minute classroom sessions going over the skills she’s trying to teach on the court.
Kelly had 55 kills last season, Johnson 23 and Schaeffer 19.
Schaeffer served as one of the setters last season behind Katie Stegora, who led the team with 402 assists. Schaeffer tallied 159, but will play as one of the team’s two setters this season. Kelly can play at either middle or outside hitter.
Freshman McKenzie Cota will take on the other setter role while freshman Sydney Book and sophomore Taylor Quandt will play at middle hitter.
“I’m kind of that coach that will do what I need to do with the team to make it the best it can,” Ulwelling said.
The Wingers finished 12-15 last season with a senior-laden squad and Ulwelling is building this team because of its inexperience. Ulwelling will run a 6-2 offense to have more of an offensive threat. It’s a new offense for the team and there’s a learning curve with it.
“I think it will allow us the flexibility to have the three hitters in the front row all the time, which you need for that extra offensive weapon,” Ulwelling said. “Our passing game isn’t quite there yet and when it gets to be more consistent we’ll see more of the quicker offensive set.”
With the long practices has come plenty of conditioning and Ulwelling said the team noticed its conditioning after the Missota Conference Jamboree and commented that they didn’t feel as tired after the preseason scrimmages.
“I have a feeling they’ll do well,” Ulwelling said. “They set some goals. They want to do at least .500 and finish in the top five (of the conference). They’re taking a lot of stuff in.”
Red Wing faces Cannon Falls Thursday to start the season in Red Wing.