Like all high school athletic teams the 2020 season will be forever known as a strange one, but the Marshall High School volleyball team is happy to have a season at all.
Just weeks before the start of the already delayed season, it was decided by the Marshall School Board to go ahead with fall sports, including cross country, football and volleyball.
“It’s definitely been strange and takes some getting used to, but we were able to manage and provide opportunities to get in reps before the late start to the season,” said seventh-year head coach Christina Schmitz. “I think the girls, and the team as a whole, really just want to get out and play.”
The Cardinals finished third in the Capitol South with a 5-5 record while going 17-10 overall last season. But this season there won’t be a conference scheduled, and in all likelihood, the WIAA state tournament will not be held due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
Senior Kiana Hellenbrand leads Marshall back into action. The 5-foot-8 outside hitter was one of four players named unanimous first-team All-Capitol South, after leading the Cardinals in kills (317) and service aces (77) while adding 286 digs.
“Kiana will bring a ton of competitiveness and of course will be a stat leader. She is looked upon as a leader both on the court and in practice; I expect her to continue to wear off on the rest of the girls, especially the new team members, to bring it and want to get better,” Schmitz said.
Another returning all-conference player is Anna Lutz. The 6-foot middle blocker who will attend UW-Milwaukee on a basketball scholarship, led Marshall with 47 blocks while adding 146 kills en route to being named honorable mention.
“Anna is the type of kid that will bring the lightheartedness and fun to the team,” said Schmitz. “She will be a stat leader as well, but more importantly, she will be someone on the team to keep everyone upbeat and eager.”
Marshall also welcomes back senior setter Skyla Michalak, senior outside hitter Trinity Flint, junior middle hitter Abby Ward and junior libero/defensive specialist Izzy Llontop.
“All were starters or important key players last year,” said Schmitz. “I think with this group we have a really good start to the season and I expect to get back into the swing of things pretty easily.”
The Cardinals’ roster also includes senior Trinity Ruelas; juniors Alayna Cramblit, Taylor Matson and Erin Virgil; sophomore Halle Weisensel; and freshmen Paige Billig, Emily Brodbeck and Kate Luzenski.
Due to Dane County restrictions, and with Marshall being within those parameters, all of the Cardinals games will be played on the road.
“With the amount of changes, regulations to follow, and uncertainty, all I’m focused on is playing good, competitive volleyball and having fun in the process,” said Schmitz.
Marshall opened the season Tuesday with a dual at Lourdes Academy in Oshkosh. The Cardinals will be in action again tonight at Watertown Luther Prep, before participating in the Waterloo Quad on Saturday.