Hohl optimistic about Jasper volleyball in 2020July 17, 2020
BY COREY STOLZENBACH
Jasper hasn’t won a sectional championship in volleyball since 2016, but second-year coach Jennifer Hohl thinks that drought could end this year — even though the Wildcats graduated five players from last year’s 21-13 sectional runner-up squad.
“I think they are very, very, very capable of getting back to the championship of sectional for sure,” Hohl said. “I know we lost the five seniors (Reagan Egbert, Laura Gobert, Kate Green, Meredith Hilgefort and Riley Merder), but we also have a really great foundation of girls coming back who did contribute to the sectional championship this past year. So, I know they all have a feeling of getting so close to it and then, unfortunately, not completing that. So, I think the fire and the drive will be there just as much as it was last year.”
Hohl is excited about what incoming seniors Kayla Fuhs, Grace Kizior and Allison Mair bring to the table. She noted Fuhs and Mair have a ton of experience, but she’s also seeking a lot of leadership from Kizior this year, even though she might not have as much varsity experience as the other two do.
“I think Allison will be the type of leader that she will lead by example,” Hohl said. “On the court, she’s just been a really good, solid player for us for the last couple of years.”
Hohl told The Herald that incoming juniors Aspen Sermersheim and Kennedy Matheis have put a lot of hard work and dedication into their summer workouts.
“I definitely think they will both have a big impact on this coming season as well,” she said. “Those were both JV players last year who had limited exposure to varsity, but I don’t foresee them having any trouble transitioning to the varsity level.”
It’s too early for her to tell which freshmen stand out, but she knows she’s excited about her freshman group, which there are currently 13 to 15 signed up. Hohl hailed them as an athletic group with some height, and added the coaching staff is pleased with their ball control so far.
As Hohl enters her second year, she has learned to give everybody the opportunity to succeed in their position and not pigeon hole them into one spot. The coaching staff is trying to develop more players to be utilized in various positions.
The Wildcats were allowed to start practicing on July 6, and Hohl thought the first week of practice and conditioning went really well. She hailed her players for taking things seriously so far in getting ready for the season — a season in which team practices and activities have been limited following the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised when we started our actual volleyball practice of how well the girls looked,” she said. “We’ve been sending workouts to the girls — body weight workouts, weight workouts and also volleyball drills — to them each week since, I guess it was April, we’ve been sending workouts to them. As long as they were taking that seriously, and I think a majority of them were, I think that really helped bridging the gap between us not seeing them and then coming into practice this last week.”
It isn’t a definite at this point what kind of offense Jasper will run, but Hohl said it will most likely be a 6-2 or a 5-1 offense. She likes her attackers who are coming back, and noted Mair was the team’s most go-to person of the returning players. She’s also expecting contributions from Matheis and fellow juniors Izzy Hopf and Caroline Kaiser.
Jasper has the rest of July and the early part of August to get ready for the 2020 campaign. Hohl said the Wildcats will emphasize honing their fundamentals during that time. She plans on having the team transition to a more complex offense as the season progresses, but for now, it’s all about getting back to basics.
The Wildcats are scheduled to have a closed scrimmage against Barr-Reeve Aug. 13 at home. The Vikings have seen a lot of success in recent years — winning the 2018 Class A state championship and their third straight regional title last year — but Hohl knows her players can compete with them.
Jasper will open the season four days later at Loogootee, and the second-year coach is looking for consistency from her players in the 2020 debut.
“We don’t necessarily want to be a team that goes up and down, and I think, in the long run, if we’re a consistent team across the board in everything, I think we will win a lot of games,” Hohl said.
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