Realizing their potential
With a mix of youth and veterans, Marshfield volleyball hopes to finish among Valley’s best
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield High School volleyball team had five all-Wisconsin Valley Conference selections last season as the Tigers finished 7-5 and in third place in conference and reached the WIAA sectionals for the second year in a row.
All five were seniors, leaving a big hole in the Tigers’ lineup heading into the 2017 campaign.
Marshfield got off to a rough start, combining to go 4-9 at its home quadrangular and at the Sun Prairie Invitational two weeks ago. The Tigers rebounded with a win over Wausau East in their WVC opener on Aug. 31 and hope to continue to improve as the young players get acclimated to varsity action.
“I have seen a lot of improvement,” Marshfield coach Dawn Sadowska said following the win over East. “What we’ve talked about, especially with our seniors, is we’re young and experienced, but there’s a lot of talent here. We just have to keep believing that we’re going to get better and better.”
Marshfield has five returning seniors, including Corianne Johnson, who saw some time last year as a setter, and Hannah Meverden, who is back in the middle of the front line after missing last season with an injury.
Hitters Jordyn Wilcott, Johanna Beyer, and Katie Osinski are the other seniors returning for the Tigers.
Juniors Madison Nelles and Karly Nikolai, who had 19 kills in the 3-0 sweep of Wausau East, and sophomore Lindsey Steffen add depth to Marshfield’s front line.
“These kids can play a lot of different positions, and we’ve been kind of mixing them up,” Sadowska said. “Karly played some middle last weekend (at Sun Prairie), and (Aug. 31 against East) she was on the outside killing the ball. They’re very versatile hitters, and that’s going to help us a lot.”
While Johnson takes over as the full-time setter for the graduated Anna Ripp, who accumulated more than 2,000 assists in her career, the rest of the back row will be a work in progress as the group gets their collective feet wet.
Sophomores Kati Sadowska and Kaydee Johnson and junior Alexis Schnitzler will be in the rotation and are key cogs in the important serve-return game Marshfield needs to succeed.
“That’s our youngest part of our game,” Dawn Sadowska said. “We’ve got a couple of sophomores and a junior that wasn’t on varsity last year. They’re inexperienced, but they keep getting better and better. They compete with one another, and I think that makes them better as well.”
Defending conference champion D.C. Everest, which also knocked Marshfield out of the playoffs in the sectional semifinals, looks to be a strong contender to repeat in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. However, Coach Sadowska does not want to sell her team short.
“I never rule out (a) conference (title),” she said. “It will be tougher this year because of our inexperience, but I never rule that out. I want to be in that top three. No. 1 would be great.
“I want us to be really strong by the end of the season and playing our best volleyball. At that point I would think anybody would be afraid to play us. We’ve been in sectionals that last couple of years, and I think this team can do that too if we keep working hard and can get all the parts together that I think we have.”