Falls volleyball team has high hopes after taking second in Joust tourney
Indians are senior-dominated
The talent is there to do truly grand things this fall for the Menomonee Falls girls volleyball team.
But things like state tournament berths and an elusive first WIAA state title will have to wait until October and November in the eyes of veteran Indians coach JC Bruns because all he and his Falls' athletes are thinking of is Sept. 10.
The date of the grand Greater Metro Conference home dual with arch-rival and 2012 WIAA state Division 1 runner-up DSHA.
"That's the first goal, Sept. 10," Bruns said. "That's all we want right now. A good start (in high-level dual meets). Everything else will wait until after that."
The Dashers beat the Indians for both the GMC dual and tournament titles last season though Falls did eventually advance to state before losing to eventual champion Burlington in the WIAA state semifinals.
Off to a good start
Bruns made note of all that after what already was considered a very good start for the senior-dominated Indians, a three-game sweep over defending WIAA State D2 champion Kettle Moraine Lutheran on Aug. 28 and then a strong second-place finish in the 24-school Joust Tournament at Homestead on Friday and Saturday.
Falls fell in the final of the event to the top-ranked team in state Division 2 polls East Troy by a 25-23, 17-25, 15-11 score.
"This was our chance to see the best in Division 1 and 2," Bruns said, "and I thought we did pretty well. The girls were disappointed that we didn't play as well as could have in that final."
And the pressure will be on for the Indians to play well all season long as powering them this season will be three, four-year letterwinners in 6-1, all-state, Penn State recruit outside hitter Simone Lee, 6-0 senior setter/outside hitter Abby Becker and 5-9 outside hitter Katherine Von Bank.
They are ready for a spectacular final year, Bruns said, especially Lee, who is coming off a great summer helping the US Youth National team take second in the World Championships. She is a MaxPreps Pre-Season All-American.
"Every time she comes back with greater experience even more prepared than she was before," Bruns said, "but she remains the same level-headed, like-everybody-else teammate that she's always been."
Other seniors include 5-7 defensive specialist Maddie Micech, 5-6 defensive specialist Jenna Waldhuetter, and 5-10 middle blocker Erin Otzelberger. Juniors with experience include 5-5 defensive specialist Brittany Robinson, 5-9 right-side hitter Angelica Labermeier and 5-8 back-up setter Justine Ertl.
"We only lost two starters last season and I like the bodies we have in there to replace them," Bruns said, "and everyone else is a little older and a little better. Last year's experience did help, and I think we're going to have a fair amount of depth, one of the deeper groups that we've had.
"These girls just want to be successful."
Playing with 'new toys'
Bruns is also looking to run a more potent offense with Lee and Becker as the focal points.
"Abby will actually have some new toys (targets to set to) in front that we didn't have last year," he said. "We know where we'll be going a lot of the time (Lee) but we're looking to develop more players, become a more diverse offense and avoid becoming predictable."
Lee, Becker, Von Bank and Micech are all co-captains.
In the Joust, the Indians made strong in-roads toward those goals. They overpowered Germantown (25-20, 27-25), Watertown (25-17, 25-20) and Waukesha West (25-15, 25-17) in pool play on Friday.
Then in power pool play Saturday morning, they defeated Pius XI 25-18, 25-15; before rallying to beat Muskego 14-25, 29-27, 15-11 ("That was an absolutely horrendous first game," Bruns said).
In the championship semifinals, they downed another senior-dominated team in West Bend East (25-22, 25-19) before falling to East Troy.
"We were disappointed we didn't take the whole thing," Bruns said, "but we learned a whole bunch of things moving forward."
Falls visited Wauwatosa East on Wednesday in its first GMC of the season and then will look to defend its title in the Mukwonago Invitational on Saturday.
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