Middleton's girls spikers hope to surprise

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton girls volleyball coach Franco Marcos and the Cardinals begin their new season this week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Brash. Bold. Bombastic.

This is how many people view Middleton girls volleyball coach Franco Marcos — who is never shy singing the praises of his team.

This year, though, Marcos has toned down the noise ever so slightly.

“Yes, it is a rebuilding year,” said Marcos, whose team began its season at the 20-team Onalaska Tournament on Wednesday. “I guess you never thought you would hear that coming from me. But it will be a sweet rebuilding year.”

Middleton went 32-17 overall last year, finished fourth in the Big Eight Conference at 6-3, then fell to Holmen in a WIAA Division 1 regional final. That team was senior dominated, though, and now Middleton has several holes to fill.

Middleton doesn't have a great deal of experience back. But Marcos will lean heavily on the few veterans he does have.

Junior libero Jada Cerniglia will be a key cog for the Cardinals.

“We are expecting her to be our number one serve receiver and to start our counter attacks,” Marcos said.

Senior outside hitter Evie Coleman, who also saw quality playing time last year, returns and will take on a greater role.

“Last year Evie set and hit,” Marcos said. “This year she will be primarily at the outside hitter position. We think she will get the job done.”

Senior middle blocker/outside hitter Erica Collin is a captain who will lead the Cardinals on and off the court. Junior right side hitter Julia Hylbert seems ready to have a big season, as well.

After that, Marcos will turn to a group of inexperienced players that are packed with potential.

For perhaps the first time ever, Marcos has three freshmen on his team — two that figure to start from day one.

Freshman Jordan LaScala will be a starting outside hitter, while freshman Evin Jordee will be the Cardinals’ starting setter and rightside hitter.

“Jordan will be our number one outside hitter,” Marcos said. “She is a very smart hitter. She sees the court really well. Evin will be a starting setter and play all around as a hitter also.”

Junior middle blocker Jordan Dettman and junior setter Olivia Underwood are in contention to crack the starting lineup, as well.

“Jordan will be one of our starting middle blockers,” Marcos said. “Olivia brings with her some great defense.”

Junior right side hitter Grace Ward has made an immediate impression.

“We are expecting her to become one of our terminators,” Marcos said.

Junior Katie Shaffer will be one of the Cardinals’ main passers and defensive specialists. Sophomore Tayva Johnson can play both outside and in the middle.

And Sierra Pertzborn is Middleton’s third freshman, a promising middle blocker who is clearly on the rise.

“Sierra has a lot of raw talent and may be knocking at the door to start before the season ends,” Marcos said.

Sun Prairie and Verona are the favorites in the Big Eight Conference this season, while Janesville Craig and Madison Memorial both figure to be in contention.

Marcos knows his Cardinals will be completely overlooked by most, and he’s just fine with that.

“Last I heard, we were not in the conversation,” Marcos said. “Let us say we are the sleepers.”

People may be disregarding the Cardinals. But Marcos believes his team can certainly surprise.

“The goals are to finish in the top tier of the Big Eight Conference and to get to the WIAA sectionals,” he said. “We would like this team to be the most fundamentally sound team that we have ever had. What better group to have!

“We are going to have lots of fun this year. We have players with great attitudes! It is such a fun and pleasant group to be able to coach. This is a very team-oriented group of players.”

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