DEWITT – The 2018 Central DeWitt High School graduating class saw key members of several athletic teams walk the stage with a cap and gown.
The volleyball team was no different.
While Sabers coach Rachel Truelsen acknowledges the void created by the departure of the team’s top-four leaders in kills, she says the incoming group has already grown accustomed to the program.
“The seniors last year left a huge gap to fill but the nice part is that these girls have practiced and played with them,” Truelsen said. “They have had the opportunity to see what it is like and get some of their leadership skills.”
The Sabers certainly do not lack varsity experience in the WaMaC, as a handful of players on the roster were primary pieces behind successes achieved during basketball, softball and track and field seasons.
“Luckily, we have the opportunity and joy of having multi-sport athletes so they know what it’s like being tough,” Truelsen said. “These guys knows what it takes to get there so hopefully this year for volleyball, we can work on getting them over the hump.”
The “hump” Truelsen is referring to is a tepid win-loss performance in recent seasons, as the group hasn’t been particularly close to a .500 record since 2014, when the Sabers turned in a 18-19 clip.
She hopes the team’s budding chemistry can lead to a turnaround campaign this fall.
“I’m seeing their chemistry on the court,” Truelsen said. “With our successes in softball, we didn’t get to see them much during the summer so we are just now figuring out who is going to fit in which spots.
“Their chemistry is fun to watch.”
Central DeWitt senior Carleigh Jefford is expected to help shoulder the load as a hitter and could be joined by a cast that includes Lauren Cooper and Ava Morris.
Taylor Veach was a setter last season and will be relied on in a similar role this year. Truelsen said the 5-foot-9 standout basketball player could see some work at the net as a hitter, too.
But the Sabers’ sweet spot will revolve around their defense, which will be anchored by senior Kaity Frick, who drew the praise of her coach.
“Our defense is going to be astounding,” Truelsen said. “Kaity [Frick] really reads the ball well and she will be able to pick up a lot. I think Talbot [Kinney] will be a big contributor for us, too, but who knows who is going to come out of the woodwork yet here a couple weeks into practice.”
Central DeWitt received some live competition at the MAC scrimmage earlier this month and will have approximately three weeks of practice time before its opening matches Saturday in Maquoketa.