Girls spikers aiming high again

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Logan Welti and Middleton’s girls volleyball team begin their season Thursday./File photo

Franco Marcos is notorious for bold statements.

He doesn’t shy away from large proclamations. And he won’t run from those declarations throughout the year.

The thing is, more often than not, Marcos is right. And Middleton’s girls volleyball coach is hoping he will be correct again this year.

The Cardinals graduated eight seniors from last year’s team, including four all-conference players. That group reached the sectional finals before losing to Sun Prairie.

And while many expect Middleton to take a step back this season, Marcos certainly isn’t one of them.

“I like these kids a lot, maybe even more than last year’s team from a talent perspective,” said Marcos, who’s beginning his 19th season as Middleton’s varsity coach. “A lot of kids that are eager to learn and I think with this group we could do some great things.

“We could end up a season that’s average or we could end up with a season out of this world. But right now, I’m thinking out of this world.”

Midleton’s best player figures to be junior outside hitter Logan Welti. A year ago, Welti was named second-team all-Big Eight Conference after leading Middleton with 74 aces, and finishing second in kills (354) and digs (342).

Welti will begin the season at outside hitter, but Marcos said he’s also giving consideration to having her move to setter.

“She’s a great outside hitter,” Marcos said of Welti. “But we have some questions at setter, so we’ll see what happens there.”

Many of the other Cardinals that will be counted on lack experience. But they certainly don’t lack talent, as Marcos said picking his 15-person roster was the toughest it’s been in years.

Marcos is extremely excited about his middle blockers, an area where the Cardinals have lacked some size in recent years. Sophomore Andrina McNamer and junior Molly Zieneman are both 6-feet tall, while junior Meghan Bayer is 5-11.

“Blocking was an issue in past,” Marcos said. “With these kids, we’ll be able to block really well.”

Marcos likes his collection of outside hitters as well. That group includes senior Audrey Hinshaw, and juniors Gabie Buechner and Elizabeth Keller.

“They’ve all got good skills,” Marcos said. “We’ve got options.”

Senior Amber Karn, junior Morgan Schmitt and sophomore Jesse Nonn are in the hunt to play Libero.

“We had seven Libero’s try out for the team,” Marcos said. “I had to cut three that would have made the team any other year. That will be a position of strength.”

The big question, though, remains setter. Right now, seniors Rachel Severson and Cole Jordee, and junior Katelyn Robson are battling for the job.

“That’s the big question … who’s the setter?” Marcos said. “Because that will determine what offense we’ll run.

“I’ve got options and that’s what I want as a coach. Then you have to make the right decisions at the right time.”

Marcos also noted that Morgan Roberts and Heather Haack will be utility players, battling for more time as the season progresses.

Sun Prairie remains the conference favorite, while Verona should also challenge. But Marcos thinks his Cardinals will be right in the mix.

And really, why would anyone doubt him.

Middleton has been to the state tournament four times under Marcos and has been a dominant force in the Big Eight since entering the league two decades ago. And despite heavy graduation losses, Marcos expects 2014 to be exactly like past seasons.

“I like our odds,” Marcos said. “This class just has so many kids I’ve been looking forward to coaching.

“We have a number of underclassmen, but they’re ready. In terms of talent, we’ve got the positions covered pretty well. Now we have to go and put it all together.

“If we do that, I think this team will be a better team than last year’s team in all the facets of the game. We have more people that can play good defense and we’ll do a better job at the net. Pound for pound, I think we’ll be improved.”

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