By Brenden West Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CAMANCHE — For a first-year coach, Josh Davis could definitely fare worse. His Camanche volleyball squad returned the second-leading hitter and third-leading setter in the Big East Conference from last year, and overall, the Indians’ roster is filled with seemingly boundless senior leadership.
It makes trekking through the unfamiliar River Valley Conference territory easier (let alone juggling the adjustments of running a new team), especially when Davis’ top outside hitter, Libby Schnoor, already has nearly double the kills of the next closest conference player through seven matches. Achieving Camanche’s “high” expectations for the season — a conference title and a run at the state tournament — appears, on paper, more like “reasonable” expectations.
“You want to balance the long-term goals with the short term goals,” Davis said. “We’ve got good seniors and very vocal leadership.”
There are few surprises to be found with this squad. Senior Kylie Vogel runs the offense at setter coming off a junior season where she racked up 550 assists. Fellow seniors Julia Moore (middle hitter) and Brettan Hilgendorf (outside) are coming off 100-kill season totals last year, and Lindsey Grams returns as the team’s starting libero after totaling 154 digs in 2012.
All of the individual stats appear to be impressive, but the 2012 Indians finished below .500 at 11-18. But there are some very composed aspects about this year’s veteran Indians.
“I’d put Kylie Vogel’s hands up against anybody’s in the state,” Davis said. “We’ve got leapers like Libby and Julia, and we have high-energy players like Jordan Goldbeck and Morgan Peasley. And, thus far, we’ve had very consistent play out of some talented juniors.”
Davis was referring to 11th- graders Jordan Nissen, Kelsie French and Maddie Parker, who have each staked early roles in the top-heavy Camanche lineup. Nissen, thus far, is 44 of 45 serving; Parker has logged major points on the right side, and French is averaging 1.20 aces a set having mastered a powerful and accurate jump serve.
Camanche is 5-2 after winning its first RVC home match against Cascade in four sets. It was a good measuring stick for what the Indians have to do to accomplish their goals, Davis said.
With Iowa well under way in the volleyball season, the Indians’ coach highlighted some early developments.
“You knew what you were getting with Kylie and Libby,” he said. “But to see Brettan’s all-around performances and Julia at the net — those have to be bright spots for me.”
Both players had 11 kills in the win over Cascade, breakout performances to Davis.
There’s no secret to what the Indians will try to do this fall, riding Schnoor’s strong arm (she had 78 attempts Wednesday). The 6-foot-1 player demonstrates front-row and back-row versatility (leading the team in digs thus far) and has good chemistry with long-time teammate Vogel. She’s demonstrated a particular niche for running up-tempo inside sets, and wraparound tandems off serve-receive. She’s capable of posting staggering numbers, and picky enough to mix up her shots — line, cross or off speed.
But it’s also nice for Davis to know he has others able to rise to the occasion. The Camanche roster is loaded with tall, long athletic players.
“Right now, if we can win those points that are out of system, get our hands on everything and never let the ball hit the ground, I think we’ll be successful,” Davis said.
If that’s all the team needs to fix, Camanche could fare a lot worse.