Led by five seniors, the Waterloo High School volleyball team has set its sights on a Mississippi Valley Conference title in 2014.
“We have an outstanding number of returning varsity players,” head coach Angie Crawford said.
The Bulldogs finished with a record of 13-15 last year, and lost Kelli Kosydor, Gina Kowalczyk, Kat Pate and Sammie Ratz to graduation.
“Our girls want the conference this year,” Crawford said. “We let it slip through our fingers last year.”
Senior co-captains Kelsey Hamann and Emelia Modglin will be counted on for leadership, Crawford said — Hamann as the predominant setter on offense and Modglin as an outside hitter.
Other seniors are middle hitter Mia Reed, outside hitter Kylie Albrecht and Mallory Scharf, who will lead the defense at the libero position.
Junior Sydney Ratz will be looked on to bolster the defense, and returning sophomores Kathryn Finnerty (middle hitter) and Sam Kruse (outside hitter) are expected to help on offense.
Joining the varsity team this year are sophomores Genna Bourgeois, Megan Gilliam and Erica Schaab.
“All of our team members will be a crucial part to our success,” Crawford said.
The coach said team strengths going into the season are team chemistry, team energy, an advanced level of setting, hitting potential and a solid defense.
One area of concern, according to Crawford, is blocking.
“Blocking has been an area we are consistently striving to improve,” she said. “We are seeing improvements.”
The coach said her players put in quality time over the summer and looked strong in summer games and tournaments.
“I’m looking forward to a fantastic season,” Crawford said.
The Bulldogs will be facing some tough opponents right from the start, with an Aug. 26 match at Freeburg, an Aug. 28 match at O’Fallon and a Sept. 2 match at Edwardsville.
In the MVC, Crawford listed Mascoutah, Triad and Highland as key opponents.