Eleven of the 15 players who suited up for the Dallas Center-Grimes volleyball team last season were seniors, which means this year’s squad will call on a cast of newcomers as the team takes on the Little Hawkeye Conference for the first time.
This year’s rendition features four seniors who will look to lead the team early on. Kaitlin Wenell is the team’s lone returning letterwinner. She had 22 kills a year ago and will take over the libero duties for the Fillies this season.
Defensive specialists Bailey Norland and Lizzy Rice will help anchor the back line, and Sam Zamzow will be a right-side hitter.
Coach Cheryl Voelker pointed to Chelsea Eilers and Selena Nolte to fill in on the outside, while Jenna Humke and Hali Pellatz will assume the setting duties. Also back is middle blocker Lexi Rosa, who had nine blocks in only 12 sets last season.
The biggest roadblock to overcome will be bringing all the parts together for players who don’t have a lot of experience playing alongside each other, Voelker said.
"The team’s strengths include great work ethic and they are very competitive," said Voelker, who has coached the team since 2012. "Our biggest weakness is they have not played together much."
Another wrinkle is the team’s new conference, which DC-G joins after years in the Raccoon River Conference. Oskaloosa won the Little Hawkeye last season with a 5-1 mark, the only team to record a winning record in conference play. Grinnell finished with a 25-11 overall record, and both teams reached the regional final.
DC-G finished tied for sixth in its final season in the RRC, and despite a 9-17 overall record, reached the Class 4A regional final.
"Joining the new conference will be our biggest challenge, as we are not familiar with those teams," Voelker said. "I believe we will be competitors for a conference championship and will do well in postseason play."