The Laurens-Marathon volleyball team has a serious challenge ahead of it, according to coach Kerry Feekes.
The Chargers are coming off a 29-win season in 2002 and lost five seniors to graduation, including two-time all state and all conference honoree Betsy Behrens and two-time all conference pick Lindsey Meyer, a 5-foot-7 setter. Behrens averaged 3.1 kills per game last season while Meyer averaged 8.6 set assists per game.
Also lost through graduation were middle hitter Nicole Umbreit, back row specialist Meghan Brugman and serving specialist Joleen Sobotka.
Nevertheless, Feekes is more than optimistic about the coming season.
"We don't need the pressure of trying to outdo last year, that's history," Feekes said. "We have the potential to be better than a year ago We have gained valuable experience and should be able to play with anyone. We have very good players throughout our lineup, so I feel we have good depth. Staying healthy will be a key for us."
Along with posting 29 wins, the Chargers were district champions last year and lost in the regional semifinals to Rock Valley.
Meanwhile, there is reason for Feekes' optimism. He returns senior Jenni Elbert, a 5-foot-10 on hand player who averaged 3.3 kills per game and gained all conference and sixth team all state honors.
Also returning middle hitter Ashlie Brazel, setter Kim Milton and right side hitter Toni Griffin.
Also returning are juniors Jacqulyn Schmidt, a 5-7 right side hitter, Kristi Bechler, a 5-10 middle hitter and 5-11 middle hitter Amy Salton.
Feekes says Milton has been outstanding in practice so far after leading last year's junior varsity to a 19-1 mark. Elbert and Schmidt should be offensive forces.
"We are a team with good fundamental skills, our defense and passing should be solid and we can hit the ball as hard a year ago," Feekes said.
In the Twin Lakes Conference, Feekes said, Manson Northwest Webster, Rockwell-City-Lytton and his team should be the top contenders.