Veteran Rockford volleyball players greet new coach

Ellen Paatela (left) and Emily Eberspacher are returning starters for Rockford’s volleyball team. (File photo)

Ellen Paatela (left) and Emily Eberspacher are returning starters for Rockford’s volleyball team. (File photo)

by Dave Pedersen

Jennifer Stoa may be new to the Rockford volleyball program as the head coach, but most of the starters are proven veterans.

Rockford returns five varsity starters, including the top hitters and setter. The coach was greeted by a strong turnout of 35 players. Last year the Rockets finished at 7-19, advancing to the second round of the section tourney.

“I am very excited about this season,” said Stoa, who served as the junior varsity coach last year. “The team is a great group of hard-working girls. We are not particularly tall, but we will be quick.”

Before coming to Rockford, Stoa was the head coach at East Central High School in Finlayson and at Minnehaha Academy. She played in high school at Concordia Academy and was a four-year starter at middle hitter for Bethel University.

Returning starters include senior outside hitters Jordan Weeding and Ellen Paatela, senior defensive specialist (Libero) Nicole Freidline, senior setter Kaylee Schumacher and junior middle hitter Emily Eberspacher.

Varsity players include juniors Rhiannon Monssen, Samantha Bagaason, Laura Jakes and Brittany Miller; sophomores Hannah Carlson and Lauren Enge, plus ninth-grader Emili Cain. Jessica Pierce is the JV coach.

Stoa runs a clinic for elementary students and hopes to run a summer camp in the future to help build the program and get girls excited about volleyball. Rockford also has a strong Junior Olympic program during the winter and spring.

The first game is 7 pm. Monday, Aug. 26 at St. Anthony Village. The first home game is Tuesday, Aug. 27 against Zimmerman, a strong section opponent.

Contact Dave Pedersen at sunpressnews@ecm-inc.com

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