Spring Lake Park returns a few key players from last season, but what has impressed coach Sarah Herlofsky the most is the level of the team’s fitness.
The physical improvement (averaging an 8:08 mile or nearly six minutes better than previous years) combined with a starting six that has played together in the past and are familiar with each other’s tendencies should help the Panthers finish higher in the final season of the North Suburban Conference.
One challenge for Herlofsky continues to be finding tall volleyball players on which to build for the future.
“I always talk to them early on that we’re not a powerhouse and have to be patient,” she said. “I want them to be even-tempered so they can make that pressure serve but not too-[even tempered] so if we have to go to a five-game match, they’ll be in good shape.”
Many of the Panthers play off-season volleyball either through a private club or the Spring Lake Park Junior Olympics program. In addition, several players take part in open gym sessions or other training options. “We don’t do a lot of stuff in the summer and if they go into the weight room they elect to go,” Herlofsky said. “With the level of leadership and tradition by the upperclassmen, most of them [take part in the training]. We have really great weight room instruction that show them how to work for volleyball on things like a higher vertical [leap].”
Junior setter Bailey Israelson returns to her primary position after collecting 360 set assists, 103 digs and 35 ace serves last season.
Senior captain Jasmine Richardson is moving to a different position after collecting 132 assists with 94 serve receives, 72 digs and 17 aces. Junior Emily Borene will see time at libero after being a defensive specialist with 199 serve receives and 59 digs in 2012.
For the first time in several seasons, a Luedtke will not be on the bench or court for the Panthers. Lexi Luedtke, the youngest of four, graduated in 2012 and left the Panthers without their most prolific server (239 serves, 47 aces and .879 serve percentage) who also led the team in digs (267) last season.
“I thought I was suppose to retire when Lexi graduated,” Herlofsky said. “The family has been so great for our program and this school. I’m going to miss the family. Each sister was totally different and we only had one sister play in the front row.”
Schedule (date, opponent) 7 p.m. unless noted
Aug. 26 vs. Legacy Christian
Aug. 27 vs. Tartan
Aug. 29 vs. Bloomington Jefferson
Sept. 3 at St. Francis
Sept. 5 vs. Simley
Sept. 10 at Benilde-St. Margaret’s
Sept. 16 vs. Cambridge-Isanti
Sept. 17 at Fridley
Sept. 19 at Irondale
Sept. 23 at Chisago Lakes
Sept. 24 at St. Louis Park
Oct. 1 vs. Columbia Heights
Oct. 3 vs. Totino-Grace
Oct. 8 vs. Cooper (Homecoming)
Oct. 16 at Coon Rapids
2012: 9-16 (4-5, sixth place in NSC) lost 3-0 to Centennial in Section 5AAA opener.
Returners (name, grade, position)
Jasmine Richardson, sr., setter (17 aces, 72 digs, 132 assists second on team, 94 receives)
Emily Borene, jr., defensive specialist (59 digs, 199 receives)
Katie Loes, so., defensive specialist
Rachel Klesk, sr., middle blocker (89 kills, 24 blocks a team high)
Bailey Isrealson, jr., setter (35 aces, 103 digs, 360 assists led team)
Arianah Frauly, jr., opposite hitter (90 kills)
Lauren Putnam, sr., opposite hitter (51 kills, 30 aces, 10 blocks second on team)
Captains: Lauren Putnam, Rachel Klesk, Jasmine Richardson.
Jason Olson is at email@example.com