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Local Sports

Pella Christian Eagles set to play with a purpose in 2013

PELLA — “One Mind. One Purpose.”

There are 13 players on the Pella Christian High volleyball team but they plan to play as one unit for one purpose in 2013. The Eagles are after a trip to the Iowa Class 2A State Tournament.

Winning a Little Hawkeye Conference title along the way wouldn’t be bad either. The Eagles are out to better their 16-18 mark of a year ago.

“These girls are of one mind as they work together. We have strong senior leadership on the team and the girls came up with the motto after our team retreat last weekend,” said Cindy Nikkel, PCHS head coach.

Leading the way are the team’s three seniors — Logan De Graaf, Lauren Jungling and Morgan De Ruiter. De Graaf is the team’s middle blocker and right-side hitter, who had 75 kills and 53 block assists last year.

Three-year starting setter Jungling had 586 assists for the Eagles last year. She also was credited with 129 digs and 56 service aces. Jungling worked the net with 86 kills and 30 assisted blocks.

De Ruiter is coming off shoulder surgery so will be playing in the back row as a defensive specialist.

Junior Becca Gritters returns as an outside hitter and she led the Eagles with 224 kills last year. Laura Nicholson is another junior outside hitter. Abby Pleima is a 6-2 junior setter.

“Our strengths this season are our blocking ability at the net and our aggressive serving. We’ll move the ball around on the serve and our girls are pretty solid from the service line,” Nikkel said. “We have work well at the net to set blocks.”

Nikkel said the Eagles were delivered a bit of a blow when sophomore outside hitter Andrea Horstman tore her ACL late this summer.

“We do have some competition among some of our other players to play defensive roles on the back row,” Nikkel said.

“Our conference could be up for grabs this season. There’s quite a few new coaches in the conference. Oskaloosa and Grinnell are strong and Newton has a lot of people back. I believe we have just as good an opportunity to win it as any other team.”

Pella Christian opens the 2013 season Aug. 26 at Marshalltown. It holds its home tournament Sept. 28.

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