Entering his third season as head coach, Scott Schumann is looking for the DeForest volleyball team to continue to improve and compete at a high level.
“Our goal is always to be better than last year,” Schumann said. “We also want to contend for the conference title, but Waunakee has a strong team again, and that will be a great match.”
The Lady Norskies finished last season 27-18 overall. They finished second in the Badger North both during the regular season and the conference tournament.
Waunakee claimed the regular-season conference title with a perfect 7-0 record, followed by DeForest (6-1), Baraboo (4-3), Mount Horeb (4-3), Reedsburg (3-4), Sauk Prairie (2-5), Beaver Dam (2-5) and Portage (0-7).
The Norskies lost 25-15, 25-18 to Waunakee in the championship match of the Badger North Tournament.
“Last year, we definitely improved from the year before, but we came up short of our goal to win conference,” Schumann said. “We had a very tough strength of schedule last year and ended up with virtually same record as previous year. We want to surpass that this year.”
DeForest had two returning all-conference players, senior Kaycee Meiners (middle hitter) and junior Emily BonoAnno (libero). Both earned second-team All-Badger North.
BonoAnno paced the Norskies on defense with 325 digs, to go along with 35 assists, 31 aces and nine kills last season.
“Emily is very fast and a consistent passer,” Schumann said. “She had a great eye for the ball and is one of our top servers.”
Meiners finished last year with a team-high 70 blocks, 166 kills, 44 digs, 42 aces and two assists.
“Kaycee is a very strong blocker,” Schumann said. “She is our first and second-best weapon. She is also one of our best servers and could be very effective there.”
Seniors Isabel Burke (right-side hitter), Sydney Hoffman (outside hitter), Chloe Bernards (setter) and Kayla Baumann (right-side hitter) will also provide leadership this season.
Burke had 102 kills and 20 blocks last season, while Hoffman had 38 kills. Baumann finished last year with 67 kills and 33 digs.
Bernards returns to setter, as does junior Leah Doucette.
Doucette led the Norskies with 383 assists, while Bernards finished with 337.
BonoAnno and Doucette are a part of a very strong junior class that also includes Natalie Compe (right-side hitter), Kendall Rauls (setter), Izzy Grothaus (outside hitter), Megan Elvekrog (defensive specialist), Megan Mickelson (outside hitter), Haley Czarnezki (middle hitter) and Morgan Hahn (middle hitter).
Mickelson is a two-year starter who had 157 kills and 19 blocks last season.
“Megan is a very versatile player,” Schumann said. “She is a strong hitter.”
Elvekrog was second on the team with 227 digs last season.
“Megan is very fast and energetic,” Schumann said. “She has a great quick serve.”
Compe had 133 digs last season.
The Badger North Conference title race should be very interesting this season with a number of teams in the hunt.
“Obviously, Waunakee is the favorite,” Schumann said. “But, this year is going to be awesome in our conference. Beaver Dam has a much-improved program under Doug Pickarts, and now Sauk has Amy Schlimgen, who I used to coach against when I was at Waterloo. They’ll have a senior libero to anchor them, and Amy’s teams always play solid. Mt. Horeb still has Elyse and almost led them to a victory vs Waunakee at the conference tourney last year. Reedsburg returns their two-year libero and senior setter. That’s the core of the team. This season should be a lot of fun.”
The Lady Norskies open the Badger North season tonight at Baraboo at 7 p.m.