Highland looks to returners
After getting swept by Iowa City Regina in the regional quarterfinals last season, the Highland volleyball team is looking to turn it up a notch in 2014.
The Huskies finished the year 16-14 in 2013, but return a lot of experience, and have a 13-player senior class on the team for this season, and the attitude has been improved, according to Highland head coach Chris Rath.
“This group has been together the whole time I’ve been coaching, so it’s been nice to see the changes,” Rath said. “I’m proud of the seniors this year, because I’m seeing a bit more dedication this season. They want this a little more this year. I felt last year we could have pushed a little harder, but I’m seeing more of that this preseason.”
Among the top returners are seniors Chelsey Lampe and Sam Dutton.
Lampe was second on last year’s team with 95 kills, and 31 aces, behind the graduated Jordan Rath in those categories.
Dutton was tied for the team lead in sets (79) in 2013, along with fellow returners Kelsey Craig and Morgan Craig. In fact, the top five setters for Highland last year will be seniors on this year’s team.
“We have Chelsea Lampe back and Sam Dutton, and those two are very important for us,” Rath said. “Cheyann Adamson is a very strong hitter and we’ve got (sophomore) Kelsey Hora, who was our libero last season, and we are looking to do some more with her this year. We have a lot who were here last year, and we are just fine-tuning the ones that were there and bringing in the new ones in here to bring us up.”
On Thursday, the Huskies traveled to Mid-Prairie for a spirited preseason scrimmage. Much like any team in the preseason, they were excited to simply see another opponent on the opposite side of the net.
“The girls love it,” Rath said. “The girls are getting excited and encouraging their teammates. That’s something we’ve been pushing, and my goal is for them to be talking all the time. Sometimes we get too quiet, and if something goes wrong, we stay quiet. Their goal is to make sure to improve that part of the game. We do our part and try to support from the sidelines.”
Opening up the on-court communication is simply one of the many goals she has set for the team to be successful heading into 2014, according to Rath.
“We are setting the goals to be a better defense and move quicker,” Rath said. “We want to be more consistent with our defense and keep our serves in. We’ve got a lot of returning players from last year who should keep our squad pretty strong.”
The Huskies are scheduled to open up the season at Keota on Aug. 25.