Volleyball preview: Raiders aiming to earn .500 record this year
This volleyball season at Hastings High School will again be a mission to go .500. The Raiders, simply put, want to win as many or more games as they lose.
Sounds simple, but it's not.
Hastings plays in a talented and deep conference, and there are no easy wins sitting in the league. Still, .500 is the goal.
"I feel we should be, at least, a .500 team," coach Rita Girgen said. "I think that all the girls on the team would agree with that. We'll have to be consistent. We'll need to play like upperclassmen. With all the experience we have, it will just be a matter of tying it all together, and having everyone on the same page at one time."
So far, Girgen is happy with what she is seeing from her team in practice.
"Our training level has been high and intense," she said. "We only have a full-time varsity of nine players - the other girls are playing JV and swinging up to varsity. That's allowing our practices to be shorter and more intense. They're getting more and more reps in. There aren't so many players moving in and out."
Captains for Hastings are two seniors - Biancca DuFour and Grace Rolloff.
DuFour is a four-year starter. She is an outside hitter, but that won't be her only position.
"She's very versatile," Girgen said. "We will be playing her everywhere. She's an offensive leader for us, has the most experience and has the most experience in general."
DuFour plays volleyball year-round at a high level, competing on high-ranking club teams during the high school offseason.
Rolloff is listed as an outside hitter, too.
"She is a role model," Girgen said. "She gets after it. She has energy and fire and is one of those players who needs to be on the floor all the time. She's kind of in the same position as Biancca - she'll be playing multiple positions, too."
DuFour and Rolloff are the only seniors listed on the varsity roster.
Several juniors return with varsity experience. They are Shelby Wassink, Courtney Van De Velde, Erin Potter-Rank, Heather Petersen, Nicole Bauer, Kaylyn Nicklay, Jen Lindberg and Jenna Taylor.
Wassink will be the team's libero.
The junior class is a strong one altogether, and most players are returning for their third year on varsity.
Two sophomores are on the team - Sabrina Astar and Maddie Sandrin. Astar, who plays volleyball year-round, played a lot last year and will have a big role this season.
"We're looking for her to really step up this year and be a huge contributor to the team," Girgen said.
Freshman Raelyn Reinardy has also made the varsity. She, too, is a year-round player.
"She will be a very consistent player for us," Girgen said. "She makes a lot of smart plays, and she's one of the best servers on our team."
Hastings has some 60 players out in the program this year, including a strong class of 30 freshmen.
"That's the biggest class we've had since I started coaching 12 years ago," Girgen said. "It's very exciting that we have those kinds of numbers at the younger levels."
Expect to see Cretin-Derham Hall at the top of the Suburban East Conference standings this season. Roseville and Stillwater will be among the top teams, too.
Girgen expects the league will again be a deep one.
"Really, any night of the week in our conference, we're going to have to come with our best game, and so are our opponents,"?she said.