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MENDOTA — The Mendota volleyball team wants to finish the job this season.
Last fall, the Spikers started 8-0 in Big Northern Conference West Division play before they lost their final four conference matches down the stretch.
Then, in the Class 3A regional semifinal, MHS took eventual state runner-up La Salle-Peru to three sets before ultimately falling.
This season, an experienced Spikers squad is motivated to make up for both.
“We were so close with so many things last year — including the conference title and in that regional game — that we just let slip away,” MHS senior hitter Amy Devitt said. “It’s definitely going to be on our minds that we had it right there but let it go, so we need to make sure that we grasp it this year and do what we need to do.”
MHS has a good foundation to achieve its goals as the team returns its top three hitters and its setter to pair with a junior class that’s eight deep.
“We really want to win a regional this year, and that’s our big goal,” MHS senior Brooke Carroll said. “We also want to win our home tournament because we haven’t won it since we’ve been on varsity, and last year we started strong in conference and were 8-0, but as the season went along it just kind of slipped away so I think this year that is going to push us more.”
READY TO FIRE Mendota is tall and experienced in the front row.
The 6-foot captain Devitt and fellow 5-foot-11 senior captain Abby Bromenschenkel return to anchor the front line as outside hitters, while fellow 6-foot-2 senior captain Ally Bromenschenkel and 6-foot-4 junior Elizabeth Willis will play in the middle.
Fellow 5-foot-8 captain Carroll and 5-foot-7 sophomore Mari Biers — the team’s lone underclassman — will lineup at the opposite hitter position.
Senior Chiann Kerchner as well as juniors Delaney Lockard, Mireya Lerma, Bailey Beetz, Allyson Kim and Odette Garza will provide depth on the front line.
“I think most of the time teams pick one girl and one hitter to go to, but we have so many strong hitters,” Carroll said. “That is tough as a setter, but I think our depth is going to work on our side this year because no (opponent) can predict who is going to get the ball.”
SETTING OPTIONS After Mendota started in a 6-2 offense last season, Carroll became a 5-1 setter five games into the year and excelled.
An NT All-Area Second-Team selection last fall, Carroll was fourth in the area with 7.2 assists per set and also led the team with 162 points and 36 aces.
However, despite her success running the offense, it is not a guarantee that Carroll will run a 5-1 this season because MHS coach John Holzman likes her hitting ability and junior setters Kim and Biers provide Holzman with options.
“We have possibilities,” Holzman said. “Brooke’s hands are looking great so far, but I do have two other setters in Mari Biers and Allyson Kim, so I have options. I really like to see Brooke hit, but I like her hands because she has really good hands.”
BACK ROW REPLACEMENTS One area in which the Spikers must reload is in the back row.
Mendota graduated NT First-Team All-Area libero Elivia Ambler — who moved from setter to libero five matches into last season — as well as senior Madison Barkman, who began last season at libero.
Holzman may allow his hitters to play in the back row, but if he chooses to sub seniors Marisa Setchell, Morgan Phillips and Rachel Reppin as well as juniors Mari O’Donnell and Yulissa Correa are options.
INTO THE FRAY Mendota has no room for error as the once-again-expanded, eight-team BNC West does not allow the squad any non-conference matches which means MHS will open its season Thursday at Oregon in a conference tilt.
“We have four tournaments this year so there is no room on our schedule for non-conference games because we have seven conference teams who we have to play twice so that’s 14 games and then one (BNC) crossover,” Holzman said. “We have nothing to work us into the season. We jump right into it.” Jared Bell can be reached at 220-6938, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsJared.
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