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By LARRY GOFFINET
CANNELTON—Cannelton returns four of its seven players from last year’s 2-17 volleyball team but still has an inexperienced squad.
There are 10 girls on the team, including two seniors and two juniors. But one senior and one junior have not played high school volleyball before. The other senior and other junior have played only one year.
Add two sophomores and four freshmen and the team’s lack of experience is apparent.
That’s why new coach Bridget Bruggeman said, “At the beginning of the summer we started on basic fundamentals.
“We have a really, really young team that has not had very much experience. We’re just working on teamwork.”
The team also does not have much height. Freshman Star Bernardi and sophomore Brook Blankenship, each about 5-foot-8, are the tallest players.
“We’re looking to get Star Bernardi to play the front row,” said Bruggeman.
But at the start of the season the starters will be seniors Mikah Hemmings and Makala Kellems, junior Melissa Clausen, sophomores Brook Blankenship and Jordyn Vogt, and freshman Nicole Harris, with nearly all of them playing all the way around.
The Bulldogs plan to use a 6-2 offense but graduated both their setters last year.
Harris and Vogt are slated to play there this year, though both are “beginning setters so we’re working on basic skills,” said Bruggeman.
As for spiking, “Mikah Hemmings (only 5-foot-5 but very athletic) and Brook Blankenship can hit the ball,” said Bruggeman.
However “we’re just learning our spiking approaches,” she added. “To my knowledge this is the first year we’re using a three-step approach.”
As for serve reception and overall back-row play, “our passing skills are there,” said Bruggeman. “I’m not nearly as worried about the back row as the front row. Melissa Clausen and Makala Kellems are very quick—Makala just needs to gain some experience.”
The Bulldogs have not had much blocking for years and “this will be our first year with having two people block at all times,” said Bruggeman.
Though the lack of height still hurts there, “if you can even get a fingertip on the ball you’re breaking the hit,” noted Bruggeman.
She listed Blankenship and Hemmings as the top blockers.
Though several freshmen are just learning to serve overhand, “I think we’ll have consistent serving,” said Bruggeman. She said Hemmings, Clausen and Blankenship are the top servers.
With so much inexperience and not being familiar with the teams in the Bulldogs’ sectional, Bruggeman said she “really can’t comment” on their chances to win it.
“After we get a little more experience and games under our belt, I’ll have a better idea.
“We’ve made vast improvement on basic skills since the beginning of summer, but we still have a long way to go.”