Falcons focus on athleticism and passing

By: Joshua Ansley Journal Sports Writer
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The Forest Lake Christian girls volleyball team is as athletic as ever, and should prove a difficult team to contend with if its athleticism can overcome its lack of experience. The team has experience in four returning seniors, but none of them had significant game-time experience while playing behind five seniors last season. Last season the Falcons managed a 16-10 overall record while going 9 –3 in the Central Valley Christian League. Unfortunately, that record will have little carry-over given the restructuring of the team. The team will miss middle hitter Morghan Pomerov the most. Pomerov amassed 181 kills and 92 blocks last season, leading the team in both categories. Setter Jen Menary will also be missed. She led the team with 78 aces, 193 digs, and 413 assists. Although coach Travis Smith will be without five starting seniors from last year, he is confident the team’s added height will be its strong point. “This is the best blocking team I’ve ever had,” Smith said, who has been coaching off and on for the last 10 years. The player with the most experience from last season is senior Molly Huusfeldt at setter. She led the team in serve receives with 181. Huusfeldt also accumulated the most kills last season out of all the returning players with 88. Having been on varsity since her sophomore year, Huusfeldt is a proven leader on the team and is not shy about it. “I’m a vocal leader,” she said. “I’m a very determined player, and I show a lot of emotion on the court.” Huusfeldt added that the team should be really good this year given all the height they have. Coach Travis Smith is banking on that height and athleticism to overcome the girls lack of game-time experience. His style of play should benefit an athletically charged team. “My specialty is a kind of faced-paced explosive offensive attack,” Smith said. As the team leans towards a high octane offensive game, senior outside hitter Amanda Timmerman said she thinks the team has really improved its passing. Timmerman is one of the players Smith is really looking for to step this year, having played on varsity since her sophomore year. The two other players Smith said should be nuisance to the opposition this season are Emily English, a junior who has been playing on varsity since her freshman year, and senior Laura Ritchart, who Smith said he may move from her previous position at middle blocker to outside-hitter. Laura is one of the seniors who should improve throughout the season as she gains more game-time experience. “Last year I played, but only during the second or third game of the match,” Ritchart said. “We had four middle blockers, so last year was a working year for me. I got a lot better, and now as a team I think we can out-block and out-hit other teams.” English said one of her goals for the season is to show improvement with the consistency of her serves. Starting with English and Rithcart will be Madeline Zea, Lauren Renslow, and Stephanie Herron. Along with Huusfeldt, English and Ritchart also play on the basketball team. Ritchart averaged 10 points a game last season, and Huusfeldt and English averaged about six points a game. While all three girls are excellent basketball players, when it comes to volleyball, English said the team’s biggest hurdle this season will not be anything physical. “Our biggest problem as a team is the mental aspect of the game,” English said. “We have to get over that and play with heart.” Forest Lake Christian’s next game will be against Bear River on Tuesday, Sept. 14.