High School Volleyball: Warriors return length, experience
With one of the tallest, most experienced teams during Jared Diem's tenure as head coach, the Brainerd Warriors hope to increase the total in the victory column this fall.
The Warriors will feature nine players at the net who range from 5-foot-9 to 6-foot-3 and return six players who have played extensively at the varsity level and in offseason programs the last few years. Brainerd finished 10-20 overall last season.
"This should be one of the strongest teams we've had in years," Diem said, "but in the game of volleyball a lot of little factors can make or break a team. But if we do the little things right, eliminate mistakes and play as a team these seniors should have a great season.
"It's a team game. We need to focus on team. We need to be a team-first team."
Returning starters include four seniors - middle hitter Tedi Ramberg, setter Jenna Degen, right side/middle hitter Heather Fletcher and outside hitter Katy Johnson. Juniors back are defensive specialist Maddy Stall and outside hitter McKenzie Peterson.
"The five seniors and Stall have been playing together since seventh grade at elite levels," Diem said. "They should have a lot of confidence going into every game knowing we can win and just the fact we have experience.
"We don't have to worry about team jelling issues. They know each other."
Among the imposing players at the net are Ramberg, Fletcher, Johnson and Peterson. They will be pushed by juniors Nicole Borg and Mercedes Stavig and sophomore Kellie Fletcher.
"We have a lot of hitters, a lot of girls capable of putting the ball down," Diem said. "Hitting is going to be one of our strengths. Blocking will be one of our strengths. All of our hitters are pretty good size."
Diem expects serving to be another asset, led by Degen, Kirsten Johnshoy, Hannah Chisholm, Stall, Johnson and Kellie Fletcher.
"One through 12 on our roster we're very good servers," Diem said.
Diem is encouraged by the return of Ramberg, who suffered season-ending injuries her sophomore and junior years.
"Tedi is coming off two ACL tears in a row," he said. "She will be big for us. She's a captain. She definitely leads the team in keeping everyone calm and confident. She's such a good hitter, such a big presence on court."
Serve receive and defense are among Diem's concerns.
"Katy Johnson and Maddy Stall are solid. Those two girls are going to be relied on to take a lot of serves and play defense," he said.
"This preseason we're looking for which other girls will step up and be that 3-4-5 passer in our rotation," Diem added. "Jenna Degen, Katy Johnson, McKenzie Peterson all play good floor defense. The question is who's going to take that first serve receive."
Grit is another area where Diem says the Warriors must improve.
"Last year our weakness was highs and lows," he said. "When we played high, we were great. When we played low, we lost a lot of points.
"We have to find the toughness we lost in (All-CLC player) Faith Kassulker, that kind of grittiness. In practice, we've been focusing on intensity and mental toughness and doing all the little things right."
• Warriors Roster
(OH-outside hitter, S-setter, MH-middle hitter, RS-right side, DS-defensive specialist, FRH-front row hitter)
Seniors: Katy Johnson 5-11 OH, Jenna Degen 5-8 S, Tedi Ramberg 6-3 MH, Heather Fletcher 6-0 RS/MH, Chels Gould 5-5 DS
Juniors: Maddy Stall 5-6 DS, McKenzie Peterson 5-11 OH, Kirsten Johnshoy 5-11 DS/S, Nicole Borg 5-11 MH/RS, Mercedes Stavig 5-10 FRH, Hannah Chisholm 5-9 S
Sophomore: Kellie Fletcher 6-0 FRH
• Warriors Schedule
Aug 26, at Pequot Lakes 7 p.m.
Aug 28, at St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m.
Aug 30, at Mabel-Canton tournament 8:30 a.m.
Sept 2, at Sartell 7 p.m.
Sept 8, Bemidji 7:30 p.m.
Sept 9, Willmar 7 p.m.
Sept 11, at Sauk Rapids 7 p..m
Sept 13, at Farmington Tournament 9 a.m.
Sept 16, St. Cloud Apollo 7 p.m.
Sept 23, at Rocori 7 p.m.
Sept 25, Alexandria 7 p.m.
Sept 30, St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m.
Oct 2, Sartell 7 p.m.
Oct 7, at Fergus Falls 7 p.m.
Oct 9, at Willmar 7 p.m.
Oct 11, Brainerd Tournament 9 a.m.
Oct 14, Sauk Rapids 7 p.m.
Head coach: Jared Diem, seventh year
2013 finish: 3-9 CLC, 10-20 overall
Career record: 68-105 (.393)
Returning starters: Tedi Ramberg, Jenna Degen, Heather Fletcher, Maddy Stall, Katy Johnson, McKenzie Peterson
Assistant coaches: Dawn Genz, Carla Stall (JV1), Katie Kaufman, Janelle Vesely (JV2), Anne Nicklaus (9A), Shelley Kennedy (9B)