By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent

With each passing season, the Westosha Central boys volleyball team continues to raise its expectations.

If that trend continues in 2012, there’s big things on the horizon.

Central opens play this year on the heels of its second straight WIAA State Tournament appearance in 2011. The Falcons won a quarterfinal match a year ago before they lost in the state semifinals to Kaukauna, and also reached the semifinals in 2010.

And while a trio of key players, including first-team, All-State selection Mike Michelau have graduated, the cupboard is far from bare for coach Wayne Schultz.

“We have a very talented group,” he said. “I know I have the deepest group I’ve ever had. The question will be is if we can come together as a team. Right now, we look pretty solid in our own gym, but until we start playing other teams, we won’t know where we’re at.”

Depth and experience will lead the way for Central, as all 12 underclassmen on last year’s roster are back again.

Both will be huge keys to success, Schultz said.

“I have competition at every position for the first time ever,” he said. “Our strength this year is going to be our depth and experience.

“We’ve been battle tested in the past, and hopefully that will carry forward this year. They’ve played in big games, and we know we can beat tough competition when it matters.”

The roster at all three levels are bursting at the seams in 2012, Schultz said, as the Falcons will field full varsity and JV squads, along with two freshmen teams.

That’s definitely an indication that the program is on the right track, he said.

“It’s amazing,” Schultz said. “Every year, my program gets bigger and bigger. To have a 100 percent return rate (from the previous season) is mind boggling. You always have a couple kids for whatever reason go and do something else. This year, everybody came back.”

Among the leaders Schultz will count on are seniors Caleb Mobile (outside hitter), Regan Hess (outside hitter), Jake Stetson (outside hitter-libero) and Tim Vanderwerff (middle hitter); and junior Brooks Gahart (setter).

Mobile was named to the second-team All-Southeast Conference a year ago, while Hess and Gahart were honorable mention picks.

Joining that crew on the varsity roster are seniors Brent Larsen (setter), Nathan Manning (defensive specialist), Mark LaMeer (middle hitter) and Dakotah Armbruster (opposite hitter); juniors Glenn Karsten (middle hitter), Luke Werth (middle hitter), Tyler Hughes (outside hitter), Aaron Clifton (outside hitter) and Nick Picchietti (opposite); and sophomore Mike Skora (outside hitter).

Central was second at the Southeast Conference Tournament last year to Kenosha Tremper. Schultz said he expects Tremper, Burlington, the Falcons and Horlick again to be in a fight for the title.

“We need to play as a team and take care of our own (business),” Schultz said. “If we focus on the things we need to focus on, we can control our own destiny.”

Central opens play this Saturday, Sept. 1, when it travels to the Kettle Moraine Tournament, beginning at 8:30 a.m.



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