Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2010 Dairyland Girls Volleyball Conference Preview

The following post was on the WSN site today:
Dairyland Girls Volleyball Conference Preview

Dairyland Girls Volleyball Conference Preview

2009 Recap

The Dairyland Conference put on quite a performance in last year's post-season after not getting much respect for the majority of the regular season. In all, four teams played for Regional titles, two teams earned Sectional berths and two lost to eventual State champions. Cochrane-Fountain City and Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran split the conference crown last season with matching 8-1 records. The Pirates knocked out third-place Independence in a Division 4 Regional final, while the Lancers were nipped in their own Regional final against McDonell Central, 3-2. Melrose-Mindoro, which tied Independence at 7-2 in the conference, had the deepest playoff run in making it to a Division 3 Sectional final, where it lost to eventual State champion Grantsburg in straight sets.

2009 Final Standings
2009 All-Conference Teams

2010 Preview

Predicted Order of Finish:

1) Melrose-Mindoro
2) Cochrane-Fountain City
3) Independence
4) Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran
5) Alma
6) Gilmanton
7) Whitehall
8) Eleva-Strum
9) Alma Center Lincoln
10) Blair-Taylor

Players to Watch:
Ali Richter, Alma
Jenny Sampson, Alma
Kelly McCamley, Cochrane-Fountain City
Heidi Lau, Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran
Aly McLean, Eleva-Strum
Erin Davis, Gilmanton
Bri Halama, Independence
Lynsi Knudtson, Melrose-Mindoro
Alexis Plachecki, Melrose-Mindoro

2010 Season Outlook:
Melrose-Mindoro has qualified for three straight Regional finals since 2006 and is riding high from its deepest run to the Division 3 Sectional final last season. The Mustangs should be ready to stampede once again this year with a pair of All-Conference nominees returning for the 2010 season. Alexis Plachecki, a First Team honoree last season, and Lynsi Knudtson, a Second Team nominee, should lead Melrose-Mindoro back to the top spot in the Dairyland.

Cochrane-Fountain City split league laurels last season and is also coming off a strong playoff run that took them to the Sectional semifinals in Division 4. This season, the Pirates will have some new faces in the starting rotation as they will need to make do without First Team All-Dairyland nominees Erica Willadsen and Katie Baures. Incoming Second Team All-Conference senior Kelly McCamley should provide some leadership this season for a strong Pirates program that should once again vie for the Dairyland crown.

Independence had an All-Conference hitter in Bri Halama last season, who earned First Team honors. The Indees will look for her for leadership this year as they will be without First Team-mate Steph Walek and Second Team All-Dairylander Brittany Dascher. Add in that the girls athletic programs at Independence know what it takes to win, with success in both basketball and softball. And with multiple-sport athletes, as many of the Indees are, that killer instinct is often an X-factor in clutch situations.

Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran tied C-FC for not only the longest school name in the conference, but also the league championship in 2009. Lancers head coach Joe Lau has five positions from last year's starting lineup to replace, including key hitters in First Team outside Kat Kazemba and a pair of Second Team middle hitters, but do get back a Second Team setter in Heidi Lau. Yet Coach Lau has full confidence in his team. "Our kids know what needs to happen for success to occur," Lau said. "They have a good attitude, work well together and have no egos."

finished 4-5 in league play and made an early exit from the Regional rounds last season despite a pair of Honorable Mention juniors. Now seniors, Ali Richter and Jenny Sampson should have the much improved Rivermen primed for a run at the top of the conference and potentially, its best regional seed since 2006.

Gilmanton may be without the services of First Team A-C nominee Cheyenne Gray this season, but the Panthers welcome back a Second Team member in Erin Davis. Gilmanton might have the most difficult stretch of Dairyland play this year, facing Melrose-Mindoro, ECIL and Independence in a seven-day span to close out September.

had some struggles last season notching wins, but gets back all but one starter from last season. Incoming sophomore outside hitter Kayley Blaha could be a player to keep an eye on, if not this season then down the road.

Eleva-Strum senior Aly McLean will need to carry her Cardinal squad this season in order to improve upon its seventh-place finish last season. That could be tough without the support from HM Ronnie Moltzau.

Alma Center Lincoln
and Blair-Taylor hovered in the basement of the Dairyland last year and have no All-Conference nominations returning-- in fact neither squad had one make either team. Yet the Hornets and Wildcats will get a chance to get off on the right foot, opening the season against one another on August 24th.