Lady Tigers look to succeed under new defensive scheme

PHOTO—Victoria Jalber (RIGHT) celebrates with her team last year in Scranton. (Herald Photo)
PHOTO—Victoria Jalber (RIGHT) celebrates with her team last year in Scranton. (Herald Photo)

By RACHEL BOCK | Herald Reporter

New England head volleyball coach Taylor Hafner had to make some changes to her team this year after losing three key seniors to graduation. Hafner had to not only change around almost every position in her starting six players, but she is also implementing a new defense this year, a decision she feels will be the key to her success this season.

After graduation, Hafner was left with having to replace three key players from last year’s roster. The Tigers lost two players who played the outside positions Linzee Volk and Hallie Peterson, and Jenna Ehlis who played middle.

Despite losing three players Hafner, who is in her fifth season with the Lady Tigers, feels that her fairly young starting lineup of one senior, three juniors, one sophomore, and one freshman is one of the most well-rounded teams that she has had since she stared coaching the team.

“This year’s team is going to be the most rounded and the strongest team that I have had in New England. We are very rounded this year, which is super fun for me. If you look at our kills this is the first year that we haven’t had a sole or even two players that dominated in the kills area. I have three people if not all six who can put that ball away,” Hafner said.

One of the major differences this year for the Lady Tigers will be the new defense that the girls will be running this season. The change of defense was a huge transition for the players, but Hafner feels the change will benefit her team in the long run.

Almost all of the six starters had to change positions this season, and already the new positions have proven to be a good change for the Tigers. This past weekend at the Coal Country Invite Tournament the Tigers placed first in the Silver Division of the tournament.

Lone senior Adrienne Roller, who primarily served last season, will be setting a lot for the Tigers this season. She also has a huge leadership role of running the team this season.

Junior Victoria Jalbert is a phenomenal passer, who gets everyone talking and gets her team into the game.

Junior Paige Ehlis has switched from being a primary setter to being both a setter, outside, and middle positions.

Junior Hailee Kuske, whose position hasn’t changed a whole lot, will be returning as Middle Blocker for the Tigers.

Sophomore Elizabeth Kaufman, who is an outside hitter, is a strong passer, and even stronger outside and can place the ball wherever it needs to go.

Freshman Hadley Binstock is new to the starting lineup this year, is a very good blocker and will be playing Middle Blocker, and Outside.

Another strength Hafner said is their ability to block and how strong the front row is. She also feels her girls are very good at seeing the opposite side of the floor, and looking to see what is open. Team captain Victoria Jalbert feels that another one of the Tigers strengths this year is their ability to hit the ball.

“I think we are really strong with our hitting, and I think that we can go really far this year,” Jalbert said.

Team Chemistry is also a big asset for the Tigers as they are friends off and on the court. The girls are very competitive with each other in a good way, which fuels them and essentially makes them better players.

“I think we are a really close team this year. We are just close friends which helps on the court,” Hailee Kuske, another team captain, said.

This summer the Lady Tigers spent a lot of time working out by attending open gyms all summer long. They attended a camp at Black Hills State in Spearfish, S.D. which they were the only Class B School that made the gold division out of 48 teams and placed fourth in that tournament. They also went to a camp in Colorado this summer.

“We are motivated to get better and by putting in the time with all the camps and the open gyms this summer we are excited to see the outcome at the end of the season,” Team Captain Paige Ehlis said.

The girls share one common goal this season, to make it to the Class B State Volleyball Tournament this year. This has been a dream of the girls for a long time and feel that they have exactly what it takes to make their dream a reality this year.

“We are excited for this year. We have always wanted to go to State and that is still our goal to go to State this year. I feel we have a great opportunity this year because we have a lot of talent,” Adrienne Roller, a team captain, said.

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