MINOOKA – In three seasons under coach Chris Hoelscher, Minooka has won more than three times as many varsity girls volleyball matches as it has lost, going 78-24-1 overall.
Hoelscher believes the current group of Indians compares favorably with the teams she has had in the past, and particularly with the team that went 23-12 and won the program’s third straight regional title in 2012.
“This is the tallest and deepest team I have had at Minooka,” Hoelscher said. “The maturation of the returners partnered with the incoming players should make for a much better season.”
Outside hitter Skyler Day, who will play at the University of Buffalo, was an All-Southwest Prairie Conference and Morris Daily Herald All-Area player in 2012 – and Hoelscher says she is even better now.
“Skyler Day is a three-year varsity player and our offensive leader,” Hoelscher said. “She trained at (Sports Performance Volleyball) and greatly improved her ball control.”
After being primarily a front-row player for the varsity Indians as a sophomore, Day was already playing six rotations regularly last season.
Her all-around game, she said, continues to progress.
“For a lot of my club season, I was playing in the back row. It’s helped me improve so much and should allow me to help my team that way,” Day said. “We’ve definitely hit on leadership a lot already this year. We’ve had meetings on it. It’s definitely something I want to bring more of, on and off the court.”
Three other seniors, libero Natalie Yard, right-side Brenna Perinar and defensive specialist Gabriella Shepherd, bring valuable varsity experience.
“Natalie Yard steps in at libero after being our regular defensive specialist last season. She is very aggressive and has great ball control,” Hoelscher said. “Brenna Perinar and Gabriella Shepherd will also provide excellent leadership.”
Junior Jessica Karalow, who “puts up a great block,” figures to have more of an offensive role in her third year as the Indians’ primary middle, Hoelscher said. Emily Hise and Cindy Ley, described as “big additions” by Hoelscher, should help with blocking. Sophomore outside Ginger Perinar “is taller and stronger,” Hoelscher says, as her role grows.
Only one position remains unsettled.
“Setting is our big question mark,” Hoelscher said. “Kelly Clucas shared duties last year and has improved greatly, and Megan Bauer comes in after a successful run with our sophomore team last season. In our summer scrimmage they looked comfortable and ran the offense well.”
The Indians, who were second in the SPC last season, will be challenged for the conference championship, primarily by Plainfield North, Hoelscher said. North is coincidentally the Indians’ first conference opponent, at home on Sept. 10, but Hoelscher says a pair of stops prior to that will be telling.
“We play (Joliet Catholic Academy) Sept. 4 and go to Edwardsville that weekend,” Hoelscher said. “We should have pretty good idea where we stand after those matches.”