Second is not acceptable for Falls, Germantown volleyball
Both programs look to improve conference standings in 2010
Used to battling for top honors in their respective conference, the Menomonee Falls and Germantown girls volleyball teams had 2009 seasons that would have been fine to almost any other team, finishing second in the Greater Metro and North Shore, respectively.
But fine is not good enough for hard-charging coaches J.C. Bruns and Diane Harrod, respectively, so the pair hope to use their runner-up finishes in high-powered invitationals last weekend as launching pads to far more successful ventures in 2010, such as league titles and state berths.
"We have seven returning and all three of our freshmen fit into starting roles at one point or another last weekend," said Indians coach Bruns, "so we will have depth for the first time in awhile. Quality depth. We should have enough offense to be equal to the task when we play well."
The Indians did play well in taking second to defending state Division 2 champion Catholic Memorial in the 24-team St. Thomas More/Milwaukee Lutheran Joust on Saturday.
"All but two of the kids on our roster were with us last year," said Harrod after the Warhawks took second on a tiebreaker situation to West Bend East in the Cedarburg Invitational. "I really like my chemistry now. Everyone is working hard to do more this year."
Early showdown with DSHA
Falls will get a chance this week to put a big stamp on its GMC hopes as it hosts defending titlist DSHA in the GMC opener Tuesday (see MenomoneeFallsNOW.com for details). They will then be at the Mukwonago Invitational on Saturday.
The Indians will have to make due without returning GMC Player of the Year Catie Friedrich, who earned a NCAA Division I scholarship to Ball State University.
But there are plenty of people willing to step into her shoes. Falls will be led by senior co-captains Rebecca Fuchs (outside hitter) and Dayna Sammons (setter). Other senior letter-winners include outside hitter Sarah Wildish and defensive specialist Taylor Golabowski.
"How well we play will depend on how well we pass and a lot of that will depend on Taylor," said Bruns.
Also returning are juniors Emily Eyssautier (setter) and Chelsea Lee (middle blocker) and sophomore outside hitter Melissa Fuchs.
Others on the roster include juniors Stef Klamerus (defensive specialist) and Holly Ordinans (setter) and freshmen Katherine Von Bank (defensive specialist/outside hitter), Simone Lee (middle blocker) and Abby Becker (outside hitter).
Falls brings tall timber
Falls will have height as five players are 5-10 or better, led by the 6-1 Lee.
"The practices have been lively and fun," said Bruns. "The kids are getting along and enjoying each other's company."
Falls went 2-1 in Friday's pool play to advance to Saturday's championship round where they beat both West Bend East and Madison Edgewood in power pool competition. The Indians then defeated Burlington in a wild, 16-25, 25-13, 15-4, semifinal before losing to the very tall Memorial unit, 25-19, 25-21, in the final.
The Crusaders have five players six feet or better, led by 6-4 middle blocker Kelli Browning. The tournament had seven 2009 state qualifiers in the field.
"Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a better team," said Bruns. "… They had such a big block and we really struggled with that."
Defense is key for 'Hawks
Germantown, which will chase two-time North Shore champ Nicolet this season, turned in a 9-4 game record in earning its runner-up finish at Cedarburg.
Senior returnees for the Warhawks include fourth-year setter Bethany Baxter, right side hitter Abby DeValkenaere and defensive specialists Taylor Johnston, Tara Peterson and Ally Groth.
Harrod said the team will rely a great deal on the play of the three defensive specialists. Another critical returnee is third-year junior middle hitter/setter Taylor Edmonds.
Other letter-winners include juniors Kelsey Smith (left side hitter), Sydney Mortl (left side hitter) and Emma Brunkhorst (middle hitter); and sophomores Katie Sanfilippo (right side hitter) and Maggie Johnston (left side hitter).
New to the varsity are junior right side hitter Erika Swoboda and freshman setter Paige Groth.
Harrod, who is in her 40th year of coaching volleyball overall and 30th year at Germantown, is optimistic.
"I felt we started out strong last year and we did some things well, but then injuries and other things slowed us down," she said. "What's helping is that the kids are doing a good job getting along with one another."
The old coach is still getting along well, too.
"The kids have become a little more mellow," Harrod said, "and I still enjoy their company, but I still expect a lot from them, too."
Germantown will be at the Kettle Moraine Invite on Saturday.
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