New coach Kim Johnson says team will be scrappy and athletic
New Storm Lake High volleyball coach Kim Johnson knows this will be a rebuilding year for the Tornadoes after being hit hard by graduation.
Gone off last year's team are hitter Jenny Jones, setter Erin Anderson, and hitters Trish Halder, Kristan Erskine and Heidi Hammen.
She says it may take time for her team to learn new formations on offense and defense.
"The girls are still learning and adjusting to my expectations," Johnson said. "Overall, we're off to a good start and I'm sure the team will show great improvement throughout the season."
The returning starters/lettermen from last year include senior outside hitter Katie Overturf, middle hitter Kata Harvey, middle hitter Lindsay Guenther and setter Ali Kofmehl.
In 2005, Overturf was honorable mention to the All-Lakes Conference teams as a back row specialist. She led the Tornadoes in ace serves (47), was second in kills (75) and led the 2005 team in digs with 184.
Harvey, a middle hitter, notched 45 kills last season and led the squad in blocks with 75. Guenther was also a middle hitter last year, while Kofmehl collected 646 set assists.
Johnson said she has some talented players vying for open starting positions.
"We have only had a few practices so far, so the varsity lineup hasn't been determined yet," Johnson said.
She added that her team has shown an enthusiastic, positive attitude along with a "tremendous" work ethic.
"I foresee us being quick on our feet and scrappy," Johnson said. "Our serving will be another strong area, and we'll also have good depth.
"With the number of talented players, the girls will push each other and that will make our team more successful," she said.
Johnson said her team's passing needs to improve, along with serving.
"Passing will determine the success of our offense," the coach said. "If I can pass well we can set up the ball and generate offense. Without good passing, we will get stuck playing defense too much."
Johnson said the Tornadoes' hitting has been a weakness in the past
"That will be a focus for us this season," she said. "With our height this year, we are hoping to mix the sets up enough that we can keep the other team on their toes."
On defense, Johnson added, her team will be quick, athletic and scrappy, with a total commitment to the block.
"We will be relying on blocking to hamper other teams' offenses," she said. "We have a fairly tall team so that will also help us in our blocking."
The keys to success for this team, Johnson said, include passing and serve receiving.
"Successful teams play offense and aren't always on defense," she said. "We also need to learn to play to win and not to play not to lose.
"The girls have to believe they can win every time they step foot on the court," Johnson said. "The mental part of the game is so important and that will carry over to the physical."
The coach added that it needs to stay positive and keep improving to be successful in Lakes Conference play.
Johnson said Hull Western Christian may be a favorite in the Lakes Conference. After that, it appears every other spot is up for grabs.
"One of our goals," she said, "is to finish in the top half of our conference," she said.