Coach: Jim Lee
Assistant coaches: Crystal Gravelle, Steven Wert, and Emma Conrad
Conference: Wright County
Section: 2AAA – Buffalo, Chanhassen, Chaska, Delano, Hutchinson, Mankato East, Mankato West, New Prague, Prior Lake, Shakopee, and Willmar
2012 finish: The ‘Cats captured the conference title last season with a perfect 10-0 WCC record. They finished the season 23-6. The team’s six losses during the season came to reputable Class AAA teams. After their conference title, the Wildcats lost in the section semifinals to Shakopee in a five-set battle. Waconia graduated three decorated seniors including Stephanie Dressen (All-Conference HM), Caroline Jacobs (All-Conference), and Anna Pioske (All-Conference, All-State).
Key returnees: With a young squad in 2012, Waconia returns many familiar faces for the 2013 season including seniors Kirsten Wagener, Julia Allenson, and Sam Paulson, and juniors Anna Schmitt, Jessica Wolf, Kia Pankey, and Jenna Van De Velde.
Wagener and Wolf are 2012 All-Conference honorees and both had significant kill numbers last season. Schmitt, All-Conference Honorable Mention, returns as the team’s assist leader and go-to setter.
Key newcomers: A solid group of newer varsity faces will compliment the strong base leftover from last season including senior Roz Holasek, juniors Lauren Brettingen, Jordyn Goldschmidt, and Madie Lage, sophomore Makayla Williams, and freshman Taylor Wolf.
Teams to beat: Delano, Dassel-Cokato, and Orono are among the top contenders for the WCC title this season, while many of the section teams are going to be formidable in the postseason.
“The top nine are really good in our section,” Lee said.
Goals: The season is littered with goals for the WHS volleyball players, beginning with their top goal of improving team chemistry and cohesion.
“It’s essential that they accept their roles throughout the season,” Lee said. “It’s going to depend on No. 1, our team cohesion and No. 2, our ball control.”
Fans can expect to see a dig-heavy team this year, as the Wildcats lack significant height.
“I’d say we’re going to be a team that’s going to keep the ball off the ground this year,” Lee said. “Dig it or go home, we’ve got to dig balls this year.”
The team also aims to play each match like it’s their first, full of excitement and energy, instead of their last, like a desperation attempt to continue the season.
“Live each moment to the fullest,” Lee said, “whether at practice or a match.”
Changes for 2013: Many conference volleyball teams this season are working together to better communities abroad. The Wildcats are raising money to build a well in Haiti, while others are working on a school. One thing the Waconia volleyball team is doing this season is organizing a “Night to Unite” on October 1, before the home match against Dassel-Cokato to recognize and help fight the battles that coaching staffs, players, and families may be facing this season.
With 13 players on the varsity squad, the most Lee has ever rostered, he said health always pays a factor, regardless of numbers and that the team will get what they expect.
“We expect to be healthy the entire season,” he said.
First match: The season began on the road in New London-Spicer (Aug. 27) and Eden Prairie (Aug. 29) this week. The Wildcats host their first home match on Tuesday, Sept. 3 against Delano before heading to a Marshall tournament for the weekend.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]