By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON-One year ago the Jaguars volleyball team finished in a tie for fourth in the Fox River Classic Conference.
With a senior-laden team, Ashwaubenon is looking to break into the top spot.
However, to accomplish that feat, the Jaguars will have to do better than the 1-4 mark they posted last year amongst the best in the conference.
“The top teams in the FRCC this year should be Sheboygan North, Bay Port, Notre Dame, and De Pere,” said Megan Wierschke, Jaguars volleyball coach. “Every team in our conference has something challenging to offer us, but recently those teams have provided us some struggle. We did manage though to beat De Pere last year which was the first time in at least 11 years that we have taken them down. Our conference will have some great matchups from week to week.”
Maddie Crowley and Maddie Koch led the team in 2017 with over 700 kills and 500 digs combined.
“We are really looking to build off of last year,” said Crowley. “We have great chemistry and energy and I am super excited for the season to begin.”
Koch has signed a letter of intent to play for the Boilermakers at Purdue University, and Crowley is looking at Lewis and Northern Michigan universities in Division II.
“We are a very vocal group,” said Koch. “It doesn’t matter who gets the kill, has the setup or what, we root for each other.”
The talent doesn’t stop there.
Last season, Maria Scherer led the team with 713 assists. She recently committed to Division III UW-Stevens Point.
“We have nine returning seniors,” said Wierschke. “It’s an incredibly talented team all around. Everyone has a specific role from player number 1 to 12. Koch and Crowley will handle the outside and back row as they bring a high level of leadership, skill, and consistency to the court. Maria will be setting up our team’s attack and running our offense for us. In addition, we have Allison returning to the middle, and Emily and Mabel anchoring the right side. Emilie and Katie will be fixtures in the backrow and the hope is that McKenna is fully healed after an injury last year.”
In addition to the nine conference match ups the Jaguars face each year, they will play in six tournaments that showcase teams from around the state of Wisconsin.
“We have an opportunity to host an additional varsity tournament this season,” Wierschke said. “It’s wonderful that we get a chance to play these non-FRCC teams to challenge us before the conference matches begin. We had a very successful summer and are looking to put our best foot forward to start the year. This season we will play teams from around Wausau/Rhinelander, Fox Valley, Madison area, and Door County.”
The De Pere Sectional is comprised of 14 teams that had many wins last year.
In order for Ashwaubenon to advance beyond Regionals, it will have to win two quality matches.
“Last year we got a sixth seed in our sectional which was the best we’ve had for awhile,” said Wierschke. “We are looking to improve on that and prove that we are a threat to be reckoned with. We are going to take it match by match but are looking forward to the day that we obtain a Regional Championship plaque for the first time since 1996. Our goals will be set high. I expect nothing less from this hard-working team.”
Schedules can be found at www.maxpreps.com
Jaguars volleyball roster: Paige Barry, Katie Benson, Maddie Crowley, McKenna Engebose, Mabel Kirst, Maddie Koch, Paige Kruse, Emily Lange, Allison Nitti, Emilie Pludeman, Maria Scherer, Anna Wendorf