With five returning starters the Menomonie volleyball team is looking to make some progress this year.
The Mustangs went 10-26 overall and winless in the Big Rivers Conference a season ago. With some experienced back Menomonie looks to be more competitive.
Menomonie will be led be seniors McKinley Davis, Teagan Bignell, Emma Levendowski and Brynn Noble.
“They’re all just working hard to incorporate (everyone),” Menomonie coach Corey Davis said of his seniors, “because we have freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors on this team and that is sometimes hard to mesh at the beginning of the season. It will just take a little bit of time for us to get cohesive as a group.”
Junior Mayo Olson returns into the starting lineup while junior Alyssa Mogen is back after gaining some varsity experience last year.
Joining the lineup this season are sophomores Shelby Thornton, Kira Prochnow, Emily Anderson, Jenna Schaefer and Evie Uetz. Freshman Ashleah Quilling and Alex Strey will also look to make contributions this year.
The team has stressed team building and communication as they work to get the younger players involved. Davis wants to see more consistent execution both offensively and defensively as Menomonie has gotten off to the start it was looking for.
The Mustangs are 1-9 during the early portion of the schedule. Menomonie dropped all three matches at its home invite on Aug. 27 before a 1-6 record at a sprawl hosted at UW-Stout this weekend.
“We are really young and players are playing out of position so it’s going to take some time,” Davis said. “We saw some improvement this weekend but we still need to work a lot harder and get a lot better.”
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Menomonie is back in action on Thursday as the Mustangs open Big Rivers Conference play at Eau Claire Memorial. On Saturday Menomonie to Schofield for a invitational hosted by D.C. Everest.
With a lack of height up front Davis is looking for his group to be strong both serving and receiving serves. A big focus so far this season has been on improving communication and Menomonie will execute at a high level to combat a lack of height near the net.
“Controlling those first two touches, serving tough, trying to control serve receive (will be key) because we just don’t have the hitters to be able to bang with bigger, taller schools (in the conference),” Davis said.
“We have to be very precise about getting other teams out of system so that we can get easy balls coming back.”
Rivers Falls is the favorite in the Big Rivers again after returning the core of its state-bound team from last year. Behind that Davis said there will be a lot of teams adjusting to departures from a year ago.
Davis wants to see more consistency from his group as the Mustangs look to fight to be more competitive in the Big Rivers. Ideally Menomonie wants to show the improvement to work their way into the middle of the pack in the conference.
While the Mustangs have a number of returning players it will still take a while for the group to mesh as less experienced players are joining the fold and some established players will be moving to new roles.
“We’re just inexperienced other than those seniors,” Davis said. “It’s just going to take some time.”