Raider volleyball dealing with youth, challenges

Herald File Photo
Sophomore Bailey Keusch led Southridge in aces during her freshman year last season.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

Southridge volleyball coach Mande Keusch hadn't had a lot of answers by the time she started working with her players, but she did have a lot of questions.

Keusch has been trying to figure out what offense might best suit her players in 2020 following the graduation of setter Savannah Goeppner. The Raiders ran a two-setter offense in 2019, but are currently experimenting with what type of offense they want to run. Keusch noted Southridge could opt for a one-setter offense this year, with junior Maddy “Smalls” Songer being the team’s main setter at this point.

“I’d like to kind of develop a quicker offense than we have had in the past,” Keusch said. “But that’s going to come down to how good our passers pass, how good our setter sets.”

Someone is also going to have to bring the load on offense, since the Raiders lost Anna Altstadt to graduation. Altstadt led Southridge in blocks and kills in both her junior and senior years. Keusch is also wondering whom to pencil in at the libero spot following Tatiana Delgado’s graduation.

Keusch told The Herald that junior Karly Barnett is a candidate for the libero position, citing the time and effort she has put in before. Barnett has prior varsity experience, but mostly as a substitute and a role player, and has gotten time at the junior varsity level.

Barnett is likely to be a big part of the Raiders, but they might not even have a true libero, depending on how the rest of the summer goes.

“I do think Karly will play a significant role defensively for us this year,” she said. “If not, even maybe see some time in the front row, if needed.”

Some of Southridge’s personnel are due to be back out on the court after sustaining injuries during basketball season last year. Keusch said junior Myah Montgomery is ready to go after tearing her ACL in December. She anticipates Montgomery will provide value from a hitting and blocking standpoint.

Rose Tempel led the 2019 Raiders in digs, and is back for her senior year, but she also sustained an injury out on the hardwood, and Keusch is looking to see how Tempel comes back from her knee injury.

Youth will dominate Southridge’s roster again in 2020. Keusch told The Herald that Southridge has 30 underclassmen, many of them being freshmen, this year. Some of Southridge’s sophomores have prior varsity experience. Bailey Keusch, Mande’s daughter, led the team in aces as a freshman. Mande touted fellow sophomore Brenna Brosmer as a strong blocker, but the question for Brosmer is if she can stay healthy following some ankle problems.

Those are just the challenges Southridge is looking at from a volleyball standpoint. Mande looked at the fall sports teams as “guinea pigs” of playing while COVID-19 continues to infect many each day in the United States. A source told the Herald on Monday that a volleyball coach at Jasper tested positive for the virus.

Mande anticipates teams may have to forfeit games at times due to this. She praised the Southridge athletic department for being committed to trying to make things happen during the midst of this pandemic.

“Obviously, of course, the safety and health of our players is most important, and our coaches,” Mande said. “We do the best we can during practices and conditioning times to keep the girls apart as much as possible, but when you’re running drills and things, it’s almost impossible to do it 100 percent of the time.

“I think we’re pretty good at as soon as we find out that somebody might have been in contact with somebody, we have people who are self-quarantining even before they get tested, just to kind of protect everybody,” she continued. “It’s going to happen. I don’t think there’s any way around it. I think in most cases, what we’ve seen, if people have been in contact or have been tested, they’ve been asymptomatic or they wouldn’t even know that they were positive.”

Southridge got back to things by holding its first open gym of the season on July 6. Mande has been pleased with her players’ effort, but wants them to treat every day as if it were a tryout. Every day counts, and with things especially being the way they are now, she told her players not to take any day to compete or be with their friends for granted because it can be taken away from them at any time.

The Raiders were originally not going to hold any scrimmages, but have added one Aug. 13 at home against South Spencer, two days before the scheduled season opener at home against Mount Vernon.

“We were originally planning on playing Jasper in the official’s training scrimmage on the 8th,” Mande emailed The Herald on Thursday. “But that got canceled, so we thought we better add the scrimmage in.”




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