By Tom Schultz For the Herald
The Clinton Herald
---- — FULTON — The sound of a volleyball hitting the gym floor at Stan Borgman Court echoed through the sizeable crowd in attendance for a scrimmage game.
Varsity was matched against the sophomores as the Fulton Steamers invited family and friends to watch a scrimmage game before the regular season began.
The energy was high for the scrimmage as a result of the energy, enthusiasm and intensity that the Steamers have on the court this year. That energy is fueled by a combination of underclassmen called up and returning players who have put in the work and want to improve on last year’s underwhelming season.
“They have energy, they have the love for the game and they have the want and the drive to be here, and that’s going to take them even farther.” Steamers coach Stacy Germann said.
The energy and drive on the court breeds teamwork and consistencies on the court that are heightened by returning setters Rachael Beiermann and Olivia Edfors. Setting was a weakness last season as both girls were learning the position, but now that they have the experience, the confidence is growing and becoming contagious.
“I’m a lot more comfortable because I’m a lot more used to it,” Edfors, a senior, said. “Last year it was a little more difficult just because it was my first year so I was always worried, but I’m a lot more comfortable now just it being my second year.”
Nowhere is the team’s energy more evident than in senior Marla Stoecker, who keeps things fun on the court for her teammates, going all out when the ball in play. Stoecker has a tenacity for the game that she spreads to her teammates during both games and practice.
“To play to the best of my ability and to dominate,” Stoecker said with a wry smile on her face about expectations of herself and the Steamers.
Chelsea Lesniewski will step into the role as one of the big hitters on the outside, and Germann remarked about her visible improvements over her sophomore season last year. Lesniewski will give consistency to the front line with the setters that also welcomes underclassman Betsy Leonard to the middle and junior Jamie Huennekens to the outside.
The Steamers roster is full of talented athletes and volleyball players this year that allows Germann to fill out the positions on the floor easier and have confidence that the players on the floor will execute no matter what combination is out there.
“We’re always going to have two very, very strong people up in the front row at all times, and then even our third hitter is still strong,” Germann stated. “We also added (sophomore) Averi Leitzen — we moved her up (to the varsity) for our libero. She is quick and she’s ready to pick up everything up back there. By moving Averi up, then that allows me to have Marla Stoecker and Averi in the back row, so I’ve got two great defensive specialists in the back.”
The improvements on the court are raising the expectations.
“I expect us to work a lot better together this year. We get a long very good so we play really good as a team,” Edfors, one of the team’s captains, said.
The Steamers hope the enthusiasm on the court will take them far and allow them to meet their high expectations and set even higher ones, but they will not be short on challenges, either, with conference powerhouses Erie and Riverdale restocking their teams and new teams joining the Three Rivers Conference this season.