Racky (click for larger version)
Kivlin (click for larger version)
Rotta (click for larger version)
September 04, 2012 | 04:13 PMWALWORTH — Last season was one for the record books for the Big Foot volleyball team.
The first-ever state appearance. The first-ever sectional title. A 40-5 record and a third straight Rock Valley Conference title.
So what's next for 10th-year coach Jen (Stelling) Koplitz and her Lady Chiefs?
"We lost some girls, but we're definitely a good contender for conference and the postseason," she said. "All of our returners got better, and they are ready to step up. We are hungrier this season. They know what it feels like. We have five girls with big-match experience. State is within our reach, but we want to just keep getting better."
The Lady Chiefs will go for a school-record fourth straight conference title this fall. But they will have to do it with nine varsity girls and without current college players Annie Kunes (Division 1 University of Texas-San Antonio) and Meghan Schneider (D2 Indiana University of Pennsylvania) along with Laura Hanley and Alyssa Lueck.
But fear not, Chiefs faithful, this squad is poised for another magical run.
"We have nine quality players," Koplitz said. "We aren't tall, but our defense is tough. The girls have a good knowledge of the game, and they don't like to lose at all."
Leading the charge this fall are senior captains Sydney Racky, Katarina Rotta and Maggie Kivlin, all with three or more years of varsity experience. Rotta, an all-conference setter, recently committed to play Division 1 volleyball at Southeast Missouri State.
Joining the captains are three-year starters Mackenzie Long and Amy Schryver, both juniors. Senior Molly Kovarik and junior Mikaela Lagerhausen should also contribute, according to Koplitz.
Fresh faces to the Big Foot lineup will be junior setter Kristen Glade and sophomore middle blocker Rachel Heidenrich.
Koplitz said a challenge could be the offense without Kunes and Schneider.
"We need to run it more smoothly and get everyone more involved," Koplitz said.
Kovarik and Lagerhausen have impressed Koplitz in the early season.
"They both improved tremendously from last year," Koplitz said. "They got stronger. Molly is very driven."
Big Foot hopes to win all of its tournaments including the Rock Valley tournament, which it won for the first time last season. But East Troy, McFarland and Parkview will be contenders.
"East Troy has so much talent," Koplitz said. "They could knock off Waukesha Catholic Memorial (defending D2 state champs)."
Big Foot opens the Rock Valley season Thursday at Clinton.
"We didn't lose a set in the RVC last year," Koplitz said. "We need to be as dominant in the South and always play our best game."