GLENWOOD CITY — Wins and the success that follows them has long eluded the Glenwood City girls volleyball program.
The Hilltoppers have finished near or at the bottom of the Dunn-St. Croix standings each of the past six seasons and have just three conference match victories over that period including a 1-7 mark a year ago.
Glenwood City’s four wins in 2014 (4-15) was the most the program has posted since it finished the 2010 season at 4-18.
But this year’s squad, under the direction of second-year head coach Christa Blaser, looks to change all that and put the program on an upward path of consistency and competitiveness.
The program had to say goodbye to six solid seniors following graduation this past spring. Gone are Mikaela Voeltz, last year’s team MVP and libero; twins Hannah and Leslie Ludtke, middle block and setter respectively; Nikki Gabbert, setter; Megan Samens, who despite being injured for a portion of last season was a strong left-side hitter and lead the team in kills; and Kristi Knops, who sat out her senior season with a knee injury.
Blaser has brought a stability to the program coaching ranks and has overseen a dramatic increase in the number of girls participating in volleyball at Glenwood City.
This year’s squad has 31 players, grades nine through 12, enough for a C-team squad in addition to the junior varsity team.
The varsity will lean heavily on its three returning letterwinners – senior Carlee Strong, junior Becca Moll and sophomore Jenessa Klinger.
Coach Blaser said that Strong, a setter on last year’s team, has great speed. Blaser hopes to make Strong a left-side hitter this year to take advantage of her athletic ability and determination.
Both Moll and Klinger secured starting spots on last year’s varsity team as a sophomore and freshman respectively. The coach looks for both to build on last season’s experience.
Moll saw action as the middle block last year for the first time and did a good job said the coach.
“(Becca) put in lots of work over this past summer in camps and leagues so I am excited to see what she can do for us this year,” stated Blaser.
Klinger will be a strong hitter and server for the Toppers this season according to the coach.
Varsity newcomers that have shown potential include freshman Abby Kremer and sophomore Mariah Voeltz. Kremer will likely be a left-side hitter and Voeltz will fill the role of libero.
Filling out the rest of the varsity squad are seniors Marne Lewis, Morgan Gedatus, Sam Holldorf, Allison Curvello; junior Briana Barstad; sophomores Megan Speiser and Emily Hill; and freshman Alexis Curvello.
The junior varsity team will be comprised of juniors Bridgitte Weyer, Jamie Scanlon, Alyssa Jones and McKenzie Kuehl; and freshmen Olivia Scalze, Delaney Quinn, Tressa Peskar, Michaela Nyhus, Jatelyn Johnson and Aubry Curvello.
C-team members will be sophomores Jil Alexander, Melina Schultz, Biridiana Leandro-Mendez and Courtney Lawson; and freshmen Maggie Wallin, Ashlee Peterson, Olivia Janson and Erin Davis.
“We are a young team with a lot of inexperience and only three returning varsity players,” said Coach Blaser. “But I am excited by the ability that many have at a young age and to see what some varsity experience will do for us.”
Blaser said the primary goal this season is to grow the program and the girls as well as enhancing the basics so every girl can master them. Statistically speaking, the coach would like to see the team secure a couple more conference wins this season.
If the team can grow quickly as individuals and a team, success may follow as well.
Blaser will be assisted by Kristen Curvello, who is returning as junior varsity coach and first-year, C-team coach Beth Davis.
This year’s journey got underway yesterday with a meet at Menomonie. The Toppers will also compete at Chetek-Weyerhaeuser on Thursday.
If you would like to see the girls play you will have to do some traveling as the first eight matches or tournaments this year are on the road.