When Mobridge-Pollock hits the court on Saturday in Chamberlain the Lady Tiger volleyball team will not have many faces familiar to the team that took eighth in state last year.
While the Lady Tigers do have eight seniors and eight returning letter winners, only senior setter Alex Steiger returns as a starter. Last year’s 21-8 squad had seven seniors, six of which started.
“We’re old, but we’re young,” said coach Rose Henderson.
Henderson said Steiger should be a stabilizing force for the Lady Tigers with her ability to lead and to pass the ball to give her teammates opportunities to succeed.
The Lady Tigers do return four players who had appreciable time on the court last fall in seniors Kaycee Redmond, Molly Lahren and Jestice Talley, but this team will need time together to get acquainted with one another in game action. Henderson said these girls did very well last year when they were asked to step in.
“In the beginning of the season we may have some ups and downs,” said Henderson, “but as the season goes on, I expect us to continue to improve on our offense and defense.”
Another obstacle this year’s team must face is its size, or lack thereof. Freshman Megan Zahn is 5’8” and Lahren and junior Hayley Borah are 5’7.” That is as tall as the Lady Tigers get.
That means the team will rely more on defense than they have in the past.
“We have to be a strong defensive team and physically fit team that can wear teams down,” said Henderson.
That makes team communication a huge part in the gelling of the team.
“These ladies have been working hard all summer and I expect it to pay off,” said Henderson. “It should be an exciting team to watch come together and have success.”
Lahren will be at another event this weekend so the Lady Tigers will be one down for their first outing. Henderson said her mind is about made up as to who will be starting where in Chamberlain. Steiger, the 5’4” senior will start at setter. Outside hitters will be Redmond, Talley (both 5’4”) and senior Hannah Gushwa at 5’6.” Middle hitters will be Borah and Zahn.
Henderson said there is a battle going on for the defensive specialist (libero) position, but senior Kassidy Moser (5’3”) and freshman Emily Wientjes (5’1”) are leading the battle.
“There’s still a fight for that position,” said Henderson.
The Lady Tigers open their first week with two road matches. After Chamberlain on Saturday, the Lady Tigers head to Selby to take on cross-county rival Herreid/Selby Area. The home half of the season starts on Sept. 5 when Eureka/Bowdle comes to Mobridge-Pollock High School Gym.
Also at home this fall are Leola/Frederick, Lemmon, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, Timber Lake, Redfield/Doland, Ipswich and Linton-HMB. Road matches include Groton Area, Winner, Aberdeen Roncalli, Sully Buttes, Potter County and Warner. The annual Mobridge-Pollock Invitational Volleyball Tournament is Saturday, Sept. 9. Also at home this year is the Central South Dakota Conference Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 23. The Big Dakota Conference Tournament is Sept. 16 in Ft. Pierre.
The Lady Tigers are 22-6 all time against Chamberlain and are looking for their 11th straight win in the series. The Lady Tigers beat the Cubs 25-18, 25-16, 25-12 in their onlymatchup last season.
Mobridge-Pollock will try and beat Herreid/Selby Area for the fifth straight time in Selby on Tuesday. The last two matches have gone five sets. The Lady Tigers won 19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 15-9 last season to go to 7-2 in the all-time series.
– Jay Davis –