Last year’s rebuilding job wasn’t as painful as they thought it would be for the Warrenton volleyball program.

Actually, the Warriors finished with a better league record (7-4) than they did the year before (6-5), and the year before that (5-6).

Warrenton’s best season since 2009 ended with three straight wins to close out the regular season before the Warriors dropped three straight matches (to Corbett, Valley Catholic and Catlin Gabel) in the league playoffs.

The good news: Warrenton is calling the 2013 season another “rebuilding year.”

THE LEAGUE

“There’s so many different variables with the league,” said Warrenton coach Jim Hackwith, as he deals with playing in one of the toughest 3A leagues in the state.

“Corbett lost five or six girls, but I think they’ll still be pretty strong, because they always are,” he said. “I think Rainier will be a lot stronger. I expect them to pick up. And of course Valley Catholic is always strong. They have a new coach, who was there three years ago.

“The top teams will still be top teams (statewide),” Hackwith said. “Valley Catholic is on our side (West Division), so we’ll play them twice.”

With the Valiants and the Columbians both on the West half, “I can see us being third just on our side,” he said. “It’s going to be a struggle for us, but we can do some things if we really work at it.”

THE PLAYERS

Having lost six players to graduation off last year’s team, “we’re very young,” Hackwith said. “We have three returning seniors, but only one who has played. Hanna Little was the only one we had a lot on the floor last year.”

The other seniors are Kaylee Nyberg and Riley Sturgell.

Returners with varsity experience include junior Bri Marsch, Warrenton’s setter last season; and junior Alyssa Casteel.

Making the jump to varsity will be juniors Phoenix Haines and Sabrina Merila, and sophomore Libby Biel. Freshman Landree Miethe will also play a vital role on varsity.

“Bri has really worked hard at setter and has done well with it,” Hackwith said. “Libby Biel is probably one of our main hitters, and Landree is really coming on strong at middle. She’s a very good athlete, and she’s going to get a lot taller.”

Three of the seniors lost from 2012 were three of the best: Mady Hanna, Courtney Lofton and Kim Nichols.

“It will be hard to fill those shoes,” Hackwith said. “Courtney’s height and her hitting skills, and Kimberly’s defensive play in the back will be missed.”

As a result, “the leadership is the big deal right now,” he said. “We’re trying to work on getting the leaders to step up and talk more on the floor. Getting everyone to play as a team is really our big focus. We know it’s going to take a team to do our winning this year. We don’t have the individuals like Courtney or Kimberly.”

Little’s strength is her leadership on the floor and her defensive abilities, said the coach.

As always, the Warriors put a big emphasis on defense and passing.

“We’re doubling that this year,” Hackwith said, “because we believe we’re going to have to be a defensive, scrappy team, trying to get every ball off the floor.

“If we can get some of our hitters like Landree, Libby and hopefully Casteel and Phoenix to start hitting, that will be a plus.”

 

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