They say, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” The 8-14 Raiders’ volleyball team had to cling to these words all through last season.
A shaky start to 2012 cost the Collins-Maxwell/Baxter volleyball team a shot at a winning season, but the way the team closed bodes well for the fall of 2013. The Raiders lost their first six matches of 2012, but a string of five victories in seven matches fueled an 8-8 finish that included a 3-2 victory over Prairie City-Monroe in the Class 3A regionals.
“The kids just started to gel really well. Their passing got a lot better,” CMB coach Scott Ranck said. “We had some medical issues with the team and were forced to make a few lineup changes. So, I kind of shuffled things around, and the girls responded really well.”
The Raiders will lose plenty of the senior leadership that allowed the 2012 team to keep its head up. Seniors Cheyanne Warne, Shelby Berg, Jenna Ziesman and Becky Williams were crucial to the string of victories the Raiders put up last season, but four of the top players from last year will return hoping to make some improvements.
Senior Abbie Haupert led the team in kills last season with 181, almost 70 more than Warne, who was second on the team with 112. Those 181 kills placed Haupert ninth in the Heart of Iowa Conference, and she’ll be looking to build on that for this season.
“She’s probably one of our strongest players returning,” Ranck said of Haupert. “She was mainly our middle hitter last season, but she’s someone we’ll be able to move around to different positions. She’s a good athlete, and she hits the ball really hard. She also passes the ball well”
Juniors Abbey Applegate, Mackenzie Schmitz and Alex Hiavacek should fill out the starting squad along with Haupert, and each of them brings something to the table. Applegate was second on the team in 2012 with a .158 kill effectiveness ration. She also racked up 19 aces.
Schmitz led the team with a 91.6 serve percentage, and her 70 sets were also first amongst the Raider ballers. Hiavacek’s 28 kills were sixth on the team.
“She blew out her knee playing basketball in the winter,” Ranck said of Shcmitz. ‘She was able to play softball, and she’s staring to come around on the health front.”
The team doesn’t have a whole lot of returners and some of the girls who played sparingly last year will be asked to handle a bigger load.
“We had a good class come through, but we have some fresh, young faces,” Ranck said. “They’re excited about volleyball, and they want to get better. The biggest thing is that they listen. It’s gonna take some time before they’re used to it, but we need them to step up and be a good supporting cast for some of our more experienced players.
The Raiders’ season will begin on Sept. 3 at Lynnville-Sully.