LUSK – When a small school like Niobrara County graduates six seniors, rebuilding will always be a factor. But for seventh-year head coach Sandra Johnson, it will be starting with a fresh palette of hungry, yet raw varsity volleyball players.
Johnson has two seniors in Adelle DesEnfants and Jaden Stauffer, and while they have been overshadowed by the Class of 2021 for several years, they are ready to step in as leaders.
“It does change the perspective with just the two, but they are pretty calm, and don’t get excited easy,” said Johnson. “And Lily has stepped up and is a lot like those two in her demeanor and willingness to help the younger players.”
She is referring to the only player with extensive varsity experience in junior Lily Krueger. Krueger will most likely be hitting from all angles at the net and is one of the best from the service line among returning conference players.
“She’s come a long way because she had all that varsity experience a year ago,” said DesEnfants. “But we don’t have that one superstar, so I think that helps us play better as a team. We’ve been mixing up the matchups in practice, just so we can get comfortable with everyone.”
Evelyn DesEnfants and Larkin Williams are the other juniors expected to contribute and sophomores Phoebe Allbright, Hattie Nelson and Melody ZumBrunnen will see plenty of floor time as well.
“Because all of us are pretty inexperienced at the varsity level, it shows that we are in the same boat together,” said Stauffer. “But I think that we as seniors, if we play with a positive attitude, the younger girls can look up to that.”
Johnson has Andie Hubbard (third season) and Cora Fitzgerald (second season) back on the sidelines to assist with the nine newcomers. Three freshmen are among the five tallest on the roster and could make an impact as the season progresses.
“Some of them may become contributors in the end, but we’ll have to see,” added Johnson. “They all get along very well and the positive mindset will help with the physical aspect too.”
The Lady Tigers opened the season at the Lingle tournament last weekend and tip off the home schedule as Crawford, Neb. visits Tiger Gym Sept. 2. starting at 5 p.m.