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New Placer boys volleyball coach wants to create consistency

Hillmen have 10 juniors on 14-player roster
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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By Matthew Kimel
Journal sports editor
Andy Klem feels like he’s fallen into a great position. 
The first-year Placer High School boys volleyball coach has a talented group of charismatic players and a plan to create stability at the helm of the Hillmen’s program.  
“There are 14 players on the team and everybody’s good,” said Klem, a 2005 Del Oro High alumnus who played volleyball for four years with the Golden Eagles, one in Junior Olympics and another at Chico State University. “We have a solid group of guys that want to come to work and get good.”
Klem applied for the coaching position under the platform that he’d like to keep the position for years to come. 
“There hasn’t been any consistency at the head coach,” said Klem, who has previously coached at Northern California Volleyball Club in Rocklin and is working toward a teaching credential at Sacramento State in hopes of getting a job in the local area. “It’s led to the players not necessarily playing to the best of their ability. 
“When I interviewed I told them I want to create some consistency at the top,” added Klem, whose brother, Josh, was a three-sport star at Placer. “There’s been a lot of coaches around here lately. We have a good foundation set to have a good team for a lot of years to come.”
This year’s squad is off to a 2-1 start under Klem. The Hillmen’s roster features three seniors, 10 juniors and a sophomore, who happens to be the team’s starting setter. A majority of the players also play at the club level. 
One of the team’s strengths is communication and familiarity.
“A lot of these guys play club and have played together and know each other,” Klem said. “When you play year-round, you get better. That’s a huge thing. It helps elevate your game. We have eight or nine guys that play in club.”
Logan Wagner, a junior and second-year varsity opposite hitter, seems to like playing for Klem. 
According to Wagner, the coach gives everyone a lot of playing time at practice, which the players enjoy more than working on drills. 
“He’s a good coach,” Wagner said. “We could definitely use him for a few more years and for the people in the future.”
While Wagner thinks the team could be even better next year with its large contingent of juniors, he believes the Hillmen are going to continue to be a pretty competitive bunch this season. 
“We have a good hitting and blocking team,” he said. “We have really good middle hitters. Our setter is good. We’re a good all-around team.”
Four-year varsity player Collin Houston is confident this is the best Placer volleyball team he’s been a part of during his Hillman career. 
“There are a lot of experienced players,” said Houston, whose younger brother, Parker, is the team’s setter. “We have like eight club players. Our chemistry is great. We are a lot more enthusiastic during the game and cheer a lot better.”
One of those rooting routines is for Austin Bonner, where the team chants “A-Bon!” when Bonner is on the court. 
Others expected to play big roles for the Hillmen, who host Bear River Thursday at 6 p.m. in a Capital League opener, include junior liberos Eric Lawson and B.J. Sidhu. 
The team also has a lot of height in 6-foot-6 middle hitter Tyler Linton, a junior, and 6-4 outside hitter Wyatt Henson, also a junior. 
Senior Brandon Barry helps pass along good ethics and life skills to the unit. 
“He’s a good player,” Klem said of Barry. “He also brings extreme leadership and rallies the kids. He’s helping me out as a new coach.”
Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@matthewkimel