LaGrange hopeful about Forest Park volleyball

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Senior Avari Burger is a key returning piece for Forest Park volleyball.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — Tara LaGrange had been around the Forest Park volleyball program before assuming the head coaching position last year, but she got a taste of moving players around and helping them learn how to play different positions on the court.

The Rangers have focused on fundamentals and perfecting skills going into this year. Forest Park went 8-18 in LaGrange's first year, besting North Knox in the sectional before bowing out to Linton-Stockton in the semis.

"Last year, it was a huge confidence builder for the girls to be able to win a game in the sectional," LaGrange said.

Forest Park has an experienced group this year comprised of 14 upperclassmen, including four seniors: Ali Brandes, Ali Welp, Avari Burger and Philicity Collignon. LaGrange appreciates being able to have a lot of experience coming back. She noted that they did well with offseason conditioning and all have stepped up in some way.

"It's going to be, hopefully, a great year with this group," she said.

The Rangers will utilize their upperclassmen in some prominent roles. They lost defensive specialist Tori Fetter to graduation last year, but will utilize junior Claire Hagedorn in that spot in 2021.

They also intend to use their upperclassmen for their front row this year, with LaGrange mentioning her seniors being in the middle of that.

"Avari (Burger) being our outside, Ali Welp being our middle, Philicity Collignon is going to be on our right side - she'll be an opposite," LaGrange said. "So, she'll be a hitter and a blocker as well. So, I feel like we do have a strong front row for the most part on really all six positions as the girls come around."

She expects Burger will get a lot of kills again this year, and she anticipates Welp, Collignon and junior Carley Begle will all get a ton of blocks.

LaGrange looks at Forest Park's schedule, and believes the team should win more than half of its games. She believes the Rangers have grown in their desire to win, and possess a winning drive. LaGrange thought her players showed themselves in sectional last year with strong hitters, great digs and great blocks. Now, she's emphasizing consistency, and is wanting them to put it all together.

While the Rangers would love to win the Pocket Athletic Conference, LaGrange is also hoping that they can at least be in the middle, so that they're competitive with all of their conference rivals.

Forest Park once again doesn't have a scrimmage this year, but the second-year coach noted the Rangers will look to have one in the future. Therefore, they'll head straight into PAC action as they are scheduled to open their season Monday at home against Tecumseh.

"They have strong hitters, they have a really good program over there," she said. "So, we're going to be focusing a lot on trying really active at the net with our block, getting hands on the ball, touching the ball and then just making sure our diggers are in the spots they need to be."




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