Pirates eyeing more treasure

Pictured is the 2022 Valmeyer High School volleyball team. From left, front row, are Railyn Blaylock, Violet Kreckle, Alex DeLuca and Laney Dehn; middle row: Mia McSchooler, Lola Niebruegge, Allie Wood, Tessa Knowlton and Kate Lueck; back row: Kadence Seitz, Hannah Gideon, Lilly Carron, Markee Voelker, Brooke Miller, Kierstin Miller, Jayna Kreckle and Lily Hohnbaum. 

A talented Valmeyer High School volleyball squad has unfinished business to settle from last year’s sectional final loss to Gibault.

With the return of most players from a 27-win 2021 team that went undefeated in conference play, 30 wins and an even deeper postseason run this fall are certainly not out of the question.

Returning seniors for head coach Karla Bivins are four-year starters Markee Voelker and Jayna Krekel. 

“They took a team with 27 losses as freshmen to a team of 27 wins as juniors and are expected to take things even further as seniors,” Bivins said. “Markee has done exceptionally well at the club level and brings her experience and leadership to a well-rounded team. Jayna is more of a quiet leader. She leads by example and is certainly helping to train younger sister Violet (a sophomore), to eventually take over the setter position.”

Voelker finished with 254 service points and 202 kills last season. Krekel led the Pirates with 483 assists in 2021.

There’s some good news and bad news regarding the junior class for Valmeyer. 

Hannah Gideon returns in 2022 after missing the second half of last season due to a broken thumb. On the flip side, Kierstin Miller is expected to miss much of this season due to an ACL tear during club volleyball. She had 233 points, 221 kills and 69 blocks last season.

“Hannah was counted on as a blocker and she will now take that skill to the middle of the court,” Bivins said.

Other juniors ready to steer the ship this fall are middle hitter Brooke Miller, passing standout Mia McSchooler and defensive specialist Kate Lueck.

Brooke Miller finished with an eye-popping 333 kills last season in addition to 203 points, 57 aces and 82 blocks.

“She works to get the job done,” Bivins said. “She doesn’t give up and strives for perfection.”

McSchooler, who led the team with 336 digs in 2021, is coming off a stellar club volleyball season.

“She can do it all,” Bivins said. “She is our primary passer on defense and serve receive, but can also jump, hit and block. She is strong and quick and a textbook passer.”

Bivins described Lueck as “the kid who will hit a brick wall to get to a ball.”

As for the sophomores, Lily Hohnbaum and Lilly Carron are working hard to earn playing time along with classmate Violet Krekel.

Others rounding out the 2022 Valmeyer volleyball squad include defensive specialist Railyn Blaylock and seven freshmen including Alex DeLuca and Kadence Seitz. 

“I always say, ‘if we can pass, we can play,’ so defense is always something we constantly work to improve on,” Bivins said. “We never have much in the way of height, but we make up for it in strength and jumping. We should be the top contender in the small school side of the conference.”

Read the Fall Sports Preview in the Aug. 24 issue of the Republic-Times.

For a schedule of fall sports, click here.

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