There wasn’t a whole lot expected of the Camanche volleyball team entering the 2019 season.
Afterall, they lost huge chunks of their sub-state qualifying team last year. Madi Parson, their powerful outside hitter, is in her first year of collegiate volleyball at Coe College.
Their four-year starter and milestone assist setter Hanna Nissen graduated, leaving a huge void in the offense.
Not to mention they lost huge defensive speed with Cam Carstensen and Sarah Osaro in the back row.
That left a handful of varsity returners but also a big question: who was going to step up?
“Madi Parson .. she was a huge leader,” head coach Heather Clark said. “She was very vocal and we had that for a few years. Now, we have some returning varsity players and we’re working on getting them more vocal. They’re so used to having someone doing it for them.”
The answer has been the upperclassman, although not quite the way expected. Returning varsity starters Tarah Wehde, Maci Sloane and Emy Seeser have all taken on the leadership role ... but all three tend to be on the quieter side of things.
“Everyone has their moments so far,” Clark said. “Every game, it’s been somebody else that has stepped up and had a huge part.”
The one thing for sure is that all three want to prove something this year. They have taken the doubts about the program in stride, aiding some of the new faces on the varsity roster and picking up different aspects of their own game.
“I feel like everyone thought the team is all gone, they’re not going to win,” senior Tarah Wehde said. “That’s been big motivation to push ourselves to prove them wrong.
“We have come together as a team more during practices. Each practice we work harder and pick it up.”
They’re certainly not off to a bad start, either. The team is currently 7-7, leaving them room to make big strides in the later half of the season if their play continues to improve.
Which they have been. A perfect example came on Tuesday night. After losing 2-0 to Bellevue on their home court on Saturday, the Indians came out on the road and took them in five sets.
Again, knowing they have a lot to prove on the court.
“It pushes us to want to work even harder and show them that [we’re that good too].” junior Maci Sloane said. “We’re all slowly starting to come together and get used to our positions.”
Sloane has made big strides in the middle, utilizing quick sets and slides to be the teams’ second highest kill accumulator with 75. She proved herself in Bellevue, leading with 15 kills and three blocks.
They’re working off of Emy Seeser, who sets up about half of the attack attempts while junior Bella Sager serves the other half of the rotation. Seeser was a right side hitter last year, with Hanna Nissen doing all of the setting.
This summer, she worked on using her skills in the setter position. The work shows, as Seeser looks comfortable in her new role while also aiding in the back and front rows.
“I’ve never set in my life, and it wasn’t the easiest transition,” Seeser said. “It’s a lot different than what I was expecting it to be.”
Wehde is the current kill leader with 85, serving the outside with a powerful attack. She also has the second highest digs on the team with 54.
The three have very different skill sets that are leading the team statistically. They’re now working on how to lead a team mentally while in the middle of each match.
For them, it’s about positivity. They don’t want the four returners (Wehde, Sloane, Seeser, and sophomore Lauren Snyder) to buy into any doubts, and they certainly don’t want those doubts to influence the fresh faces on the roster.
“We all have to bring our own energy and be loud to create the energy with all of us,” Sloane said.
“Keeping a positive attitude is the main thing,” Seeser said. “If one person is down, we’re all down. That’s a big goal for our team is to stay as one team.”
They’re also aware that they’re a very momentum-based team as well. With a little bit of inexperience, they know that they have to stay up every single point. They can no longer rely on talent alone, but have to look to energy, work and attitude on the court.
And to get in that mindset, they just have to think about what they want to prove out there.
“The games where we struggle, the main thing is we fall apart, get mad at each other and don’t have that connection,” Wehde said. “The games we’re on we work together well, communicate and talk to each other.
“Last year, if we had an off say, we could still win. This year, it’s a little different. If we start to lose, we start to fall apart. What gets us back together is that people think about last year and they want to prove themselves.”