In 2014, the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter volleyball team will attempt to earn its second consecutive winning season under head coach Scott Ranck.
The Raiders went 12-11 a year ago after only winning eight matches in 2012. This season they will have a tough time replacing all-conference middle hitter Abbie Haupert, but Ranck is optimistic the team can still succeed.
“We have several players returning with varsity experience,” Ranck said. “We ended last season on a high note and we’re looking to build on that.”
CMB will face a challenging Heart of Iowa Conference schedule that includes 2013 state qualifier Nevada and strong Gilbert, Roland-Story and North Polk programs.
“The conference will be very tough,” Ranck said. “I expect Nevada to be the top team, but several teams will be good. Not many teams lost players from last year.”
Ranck will count on a veteran team that includes five seniors to help tread water in the HOIC.
“We have several girls who have gained lots of varsity experience,” Ranck said. “Now we are looking for those girls to take lead roles. Getting off to a good start to build confidence is going to be paramount.”
At middle hitter, CMB will have junior Payge Jurgens and senior Maddy Poage stepping up to fill Haupert’s shoes. Jurgens had 124 kills, 49 aces and 22 blocks last season and Poage is stepping into the varsity lineup for the first time.
At outside hitter, Ranck is counting on senior Abbey Appelgate and junior Bridget Hurley. Appelgate recorded 210 digs, 57 kills and 53 aces last season and Hurley finished with 18 kills and 47 digs.
Senior Mackenzie Schmitz returns at setter for the Raiders. Schmitz put up 356 assists and 156 digs last fall.
At right-side hitter CMB will have senior Alex Hlavacek. Hlavacek ended up with 50 kills, 41 digs, 26 assists and 13 blocks in 2013.
At the libero position will be junior Toni Spencer. Spencer had 73 digs a year ago.
Also looking to compete at the varsity level are sophomores Bekah Pearson, Kathleen Baldwin and Mikayla Eslinger, along with senior Anna Peters. Pearson brings needed experience in the back row as she finished with 141 digs a year ago.
CMB starts the season Sept. 2 with a home meet versus Lynnville-Sully in Baxter. The meet is set to start at 7 p.m.