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by Laura Giammattei
COLFAX — The volleyball court will look quite different at Colfax High School this season.
For the past four years, a special group of athletes dominated the Dunn-St. Croix (D-SC) Conference, bringing home four consecutive conference titles and wrapping up their final high school season with a 7-0 conference record (24-10 overall).
Of this talented group of athletes, six had been four-year starters with Kameri Meredith as a four-time, 1st team D-SC All-Conference pick and a three-time Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-State selection, surpassing 1,000 kills and digs throughout her career as a Viking.
Alongside Meredith was Samantha Pretasky, a three-time, 1st team D-SC All-Conference player and WVCA Honorable Mention All-State selection, finishing her high school career with 858 kills and 316 blocks. Rachel Scharlau joined her two leading teammates as a three-time, 1st team All-Conference pick with 716 kills and a 95 percent serving rate.
Also a four-year starter, Jozie Buchanan achieved a 1st team D-SC All-Conference selection during her senior season to wrap up her career with over 2,250 assists and 926 digs. On top of these notable achievements, the Vikings’ depth continued even further, with Taylor Irwin and Addy Olson as 2019 second-team, D-SC All-Conference picks.
“This is by far one of the most talented group of players with high volleyball IQ’s I’ve ever had,” head coach Pamela Meredith stated.
A new era
Looking ahead with an entirely new squad, coach Meredith will emphasize technique over results as a beginning approach to a team aiming to lead the Vikings forward with minimal to no varsity experience.
“We are taking time to assess and break down each player’s skills to make them ‘pressure proof’,” she said. “We will be focusing on hitting, passing and serving percentages. We believe if we can minimize the basic errors that side rail teams, we will have a successful season.”
Junior Madison Barstad will be the only returning letter winner from last year’s roster. Meredith said she will serve as a very versatile hitter and will likely add setting into her main duties.
Barstad will be joined by several returning players who have junior varsity experience and previously suited up for varsity play but saw little or no time on the varsity court. Bailey Bradford, senior, will plant herself as an outside hitter and will fight for six rotations. Meredith sees her as a floor leader and difference-maker in tight matches.
Senior Brooklyn Stehling will be one of the team’s main setters while Abby Irwin, another senior, sets up as a strong hitter.
“Abby has a great approach and swing, as well as a phenomenal passing platform,” Meredith said. “Gaining confidence on the floor will be key [for her].”
Anna Geissler, senior, will take on both hitting and setting while sophomore Maci Harvey brings dynamic ability, as well as a great deal of contagious energy to the court. Meredith said Harvey plays with heart and passion and refuses to let a ball hit the floor.
In addition to these junior varsity experienced players, two freshmen newcomers in Jada Anderson and Jeanette Hydukovich will provide the team with new energy and athleticism.
“Jada is very composed on the floor for a freshman,” Meredith commented. “Her skill set is very high and we look forward to watching her become a dominant six rotation player in the next few years. Jeanette is extremely athletic and can implement what you say immediately. Her learning curve is very high. We look forward to watching her reach her potential whether it be hitting or setting.”
This year’s squad will certainly have some large shoes to fill, but their willingness to learn and put the time in to get better are aspects coach Meredith is optimistic about. She said this group of girls genuinely care about each other and sees their friendships and camaraderie as their biggest strength this season and beyond.
Coach Meredith is entering her 15th year as head coach with nine D-SC Conference Championships including a current string of seven straight and two Regional Championships under her belt. She is assisted by Linda Bilodeau, Lori Buchanan, Joan Ebnet and Bryana Buchanan.
The Lady Vikings opened the regular season last evening at rival Elk Mound. They will then host the Mounders tommorrow, Thursday, September 17. It is a pattern all Dunn-St. Croix teams will adhere to this year with home and away matches against the same conference school that week. Colfax will be in Boyceville next Tuesday, September 22 and then host the Bulldogs on Thursday, September 24.
Seniors: Abby Irwin, Brooklyn Stehling, Brynn Bergeson, Anna Geissler, Bailey Bradford, Tyler Noll, and Rylee Parker.
Juniors: Madison Barstad, Alexis York, Katelyn Sarauer, Aliyah Rihn, and Jessica Charlesworth.
Sophomores: Maci Harvey, Ella Peterson, Isabell Krueger and Rachel Shipley.
Freshmen: Jada Anderson, Jeanette Hydukovich, Anika Hallquist, Meadow Keltner, Alexix Schindler, Amy Wenzel, Jaidia Riley, Ashley Solberg, McKenna Shipman and Kennedy Shane.