Sioux Central High volleyball coach Sue Mattson expects her young and inexperienced 2003 team to finish in the middle of the pack in the Northwest Conference, she said recently, but the team has plenty of past success to build on.
The Rebels lost five starters to graduation off last year's 13-7-3 team. The squad was 6-2 in Northwest Conference action and finished second.
Lost to graduation was Holly Beacom, one of the better hitters in the conference, according to Mattson. The Rebels also lost setter Joee Williams to graduation, leaving one setter position open this season in Mattson's 6-2 offense.
Despite the prospect of this being a bit of a rebuilding year for the Rebels, Mattson likes some of her returning talent and the leadership those girls can offer.
At the net, Sioux Central will be led by 6-foot-2 sophomore Steph Madsen, who had 90 kills as a freshman in 2002 and 97 blocks.
"Steph was one of the leaders in the conference in blocks last year," added Mattson.
Coach Mattson is also expecting Jen Harrelson to develop into a strong hitter. Though just 5-6, Harrelson, has a good vertical leap and strong hitting ability, she added.
"We won't be a very tall team," Mattson said. "But we still should be a good hitting team and one of our real strengths is the hustle and desire our kids have shown."
The Rebels do return Deb Christiansen at setter, where she started last season. Candidates to fill the other setter position include junior Kayla Bright and sophomore Samantha Halverson.
Mattson added that her back row specialist will be Leah Whittenburg, one of the quickests players on the sqaud.
The defending Northwest Conference champion Schaller-Crestland is favored by Mattson to repeat, a sentiment echoed around the league.
"They have some dominant hitters coming back," she said of Schaller-Crestland.