by Dave Pedersen
Since move up to Class 3A two years ago, Delano has not qualified for the state volleyball tournament. The Tigers had advanced the previous four consecutive years.
The return of one All-State, two All-Wright County Conference and two honorable mention selections gives the team the idea that getting back to state is very feasible.
Plus, there is the return of junior middle hitter Alex Wittinger, who missed last year with an ankle injury. She was a kill leader as a ninth-grader. The standout athlete has qualified in the hurdles the past three seasons in track and has been a leading basketball scorer the past two years.
“We have a lot of talent returning to the court this season,” said Rebecca Rue, entering her eighth season as head coach. “If we can get everyone healthy or staying healthy, in addition to staying focused on our goals, the sky is the limit with this group of athletes.”
One early concern is the health of senior All-State and All-Conference middle hitter Shelby Seurer, who is slowed by a back injury and may miss the start of the season.
“We will look at this as an opportunity to develop confidence and depth with some of our underclassman,” said Rue. “We have a tough schedule right out of the gates with facing Shakopee, Buffalo and Waconia. This will allow us to recognize of our weaknesses and strengths early.”
Junior setter Kristin Kreklow also earned All-Conference honors last year and is a four-year starter. Senior defensive specialist Elle Heinonen and junior outside hitter Bria Barfnecht earned league honorable mention honors.
Ninth-grader Tori Hanson saw a lot of varsity action as an outside hitter. Top newcomers include junior hitter Kalley Koch, junior defensive specialist Brooke Lemke and ninth-grade hitter Erin Norling. Assistant coaches are Erin Olson and Rachel Kunde.
“I think our confidence and court communication will be keys to our success, along with obtaining a solid, disciplined defense,” adds Rue about her team that finished 22-7 last season.
The season starts at home against state power Shakopee, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23. It is on the road for games at Buffalo Aug. 27, Waconia Sept. 3, New London-Spicer Sept. 10 and at the Farmington tournament, 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.
Contact Dave Pedersen at [email protected]