FALL PREVIEW: Rabbits to rely on youth factor in 2019

Photo by Jake Przytarski The 2019 Wabasso Rabbits volleyball team includes front row (L to R): Emma Salfer, Avery Carlson, Mataya Nelson, Bella Brand, Sarah Franta and Halle Huhnerkoch. Back row (L to R): Kelsey Fischer, Cora Eichten, Ally Fenger, Ashlyn Daub, Autumn Marcus and Kelsey Frank.

WABASSO – The 2018 season for the Wabasso Rabbits volleyball team was another one for the books as the senior-led club capped off another undefeated season in the Tomahawk Conference en route to a second-straight conference crown and a deep playoff run in the section tournament.

Though this year’s club will look noticeably different without the likes of Jenna Frank, Maddy Guetter and the rest of the special 2018 senior class, 11-year head coach Barbara Johnson says their leadership will live on through this year’s group who learned first-hand what it takes to compete at a high-level in varsity volleyball.

“Those girls really led by example,” said Johnson. “They did a really good job of showing these younger girls how it’s supposed to look on varsity and how you’re supposed to play, how you’re supposed to work hard and how you’re supposed to play as a team and encourage each other. I’m hoping that last year’s good season and the good seasons before that motivate these girls to want to be that and become that.”

Among the newcomers hoping to fill the void are freshmen Kelsey Frank and Bella Brand, while familiar faces in returners Cora Eichten and Halle Huhnerkoch will be asked to provide the leadership for the relatively young group.

“We have two returners. Cora Eichten is a senior, she played middle last year,” said Johnson. “She did a good job for us, and she’s doing a good job this year being a senior leader. Halle Huhnerkoch is a junior and she played a lot of back row for us last year.”

After losing some height from last year’s senior class, Johnson anticipates defense and serving to be a couple of their strengths for this season.

“I think our strength is going to have to be serving tough and playing good defense,” said Johnson. “We lost a lot of our height last year with the graduating class so we’re just going to have to work hard, play hard and pass well.”

Like every year, Johnson hopes to win another conference championship but is more focused on seeing gradual improvement from her players given their overall lack of experience at the varsity level.

“As always one of our main goals is to win the Tomahawk conference, but really we’re looking at all the small things like how to be better players every day,” said Johnson. “We’re not worried about getting a ton of kills or how much we win by or anything like that, we’re just working on ourselves.”

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