By Todd Rohde~SPORTS CORRSPONDENT

 

The Richmond-Burton girls’ volleyball team is coming off of their best season ever in the school and program’s history from a year ago. And to be able to repeat and regain the same stellar level of play is going to be hard to live up to once again, especially after losing a solid core of the players responsible for the feat.

Unfortunately everything good has to come to an end at some point or another, as the Lady Rockets will look to rebuild after losing five of their starting players to graduation. They will have to replace right-side hitter Kim Russell, setter Kara Russell, outside hitter Alex Callanan, libero Marissa Woodward and middle hitter Brogan Etten.

“With all of the impact players that we lost, this will be a rebuilding year for us,” Rocket sixth-year head coach Kaycee Kaywood said.  “We have a lot of quality younger talent, but we just lack the experience of last year’s team.  I think after a couple of matches and tournaments, we will continue to be a power house in the area though.”

The Lady Rockets finished with an impressive mark of 33-4 overall and were a perfect 12-0 in conference play to secure the league title from a season ago. They were also crowned regional, sectional and super-sectional champions to go along with placing as the runner-up in the IHSA Class 3A State Tournament in their first-ever appearance after falling to St. Francis in the finals.

Richmond has 10 girls out for the varsity program this season including four seniors, three juniors, a pair of sophomores and a freshman. Although no team captains have been chosen yet, it will most likely fall in the hands of the team’s only returning starter in 6’2” senior outside hitter and Penn State recruit Ali Frantti.

Frantti had an outstanding season a year ago where she was responsible for leading the Rockets in kills with a hefty 519 and in aces at 68, while she was second in digs with 218 and third in blocks at 51. The Rockets will also need big performances from seniors Kelsey Burlini as a setter and Libby Anderson in the middle blocker position.

Also rounding out the Rockets roster is senior Emily Greibe (outside hitter), juniors Jenna Mazur (libero), Grace Schwegel (middle blocker) and Kayla Volling (right side hitter), sophomores Jessie Duncan  (setter/right side hitter), Celena Kanagin (middle blocker) and freshman Addie Halverson (outside hitter).

“Our strengths this year should in the outstanding offensive threats of Ali as well as having a really strong middle game, while our only weakness in our inexperience at the varsity level for some players,” Kaywood said.

The Rockets will look to once again defend their conference title with Burlington-Central being their biggest challenge. The team goals are to work together, work on their out of system of game and being consistent.

Johnsburg High School

The Johnsburg girls’ volleyball team is also coming off of a pretty solid all-around season, where they finished with a 16-5 overall record and a second-place conference mark of 10-2 and fell to Richmond in the regional semifinals. They have some holes to fill as well after losing four starters to graduation in setter Megan Davis, middle blockers Alicia Stokes and Michaela Kopynstinski and right-side hitter Kallie DiTusa.

“Despite losing some key players, we still have high hopes for having a competition season as the girls are working hard and playing well together,” 11th-year head coach Sue Feely said.

The Skyhawks have nine players on the varsity program including five seniors, three juniors and a sophomore as no team captains have been chosen. The strengths of the Skyhawks will come from their pair of three-year varsity starters in senior outside hitters Ashly Schmitt and Amy Majercit.

The keys for Johnsburg are to play together as a team, be scrappy and competitive and to continue to improve as individuals and as a team. The Skyhawks will once again be striving to finish in the top of the conference standings along with the likes of Crystal Lake Central and Grayslake Central and North.

“The girls have shown great attitudes so far and since we have such a small team, they rely on one another very well,” Feely said.

 

 
 

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