WIC VB aims for strong defense

IRON RIVER—Given a choice, any volleyball coach would love to have a roster full of big, strong hitters.
    This year, that’s a luxury that West Iron County coach Brenda Grubbs doesn’t have. So, like all prep coaches, she has to make use of the skills of the players she has.
    “We’re not the biggest team out there, we’re not the strongest team out there, so we’re trying to compensate and be defensively strong and cover and let (the opposition) make mistakes,” Grubbs said. “Athletically, we’re good enough to cover the court, and hopefully that will get us through.”
    The Wykons began their season in fine form Aug. 19 at their invitational, winning 10 of 12 games and finishing runner-up behind Stephenson in the seven-team tournament. West Iron was the only team to defeat the Eagles on the day, splitting the pair of games.
    As opposed to last year when West Iron had just two seniors, Grubbs’ team this year has seven, including outside hitters Breanna Kemppainen, Victoria Maloney and Lexi Lutes and middle hitter Rachael Tefft. Another experienced returnee is junior setter Riley Stine.
    Maloney, entering her third year on the varsity squad, has moved from the middle to the left side as junior Katie Fredrickson will fill a middle spot next to Tefft, who was given honorable mention on last year’s all-West Pac Conference team. Kemppainen returns as a left-side hitter, while Lutes is a right-side hitter.
    Senior Lexi Anderson figures to be a substitute front-row hitter, Grubbs said, while the two other seniors – Megan Strom and Summer Parent – are back-row players.
    Stine will have big shoes to fill as she replaces graduated setter Katilee Rhino. Stine will also have to adjust to being the only setter on the floor, as the Wykons switch from a two-setter to a one-setter system, but Grubbs feels Stine is up to the task.
    “She’s quick and she’s speedy,” Grubbs said. I thought about two setters this year; a lot of these girls played with Katilee and Riley as the two setters. But it just wasn’t working. We noticed that at Finlandia (University) team camp that, you know what, Riley just needs to run our floor. We’re all comfortable with Riley.”

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