By DAVID COOK
Despite taking a double-barreled hit in the off-season, the Durand volleyball team is gearing up for another long playoff run.
Last year the Railroaders experienced a dream season. The team won a school-record 55 games and went on a thrilling post-season run that saw them reach the regional finals for the first time in school history.
That team was led by seniors Meghan Drobish and Gabriele Ducharme. Both Drobish and Ducharme earned all-state honors, but when graduation day hit, the team lost two of its best players.
Durand planned to build around setter Kristen Long this season. Unfortunately, Long tore her ACL during the summer and will be out for the season.
“We’re not doing as good as we want to,” said Durand coach Brent Maynor. “We graduated two all-state players and our starting senior setter suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season.”
Without three of their key players from last year’s squad, the Railroaders are in rebuilding mode this season. Stepping into the vacant setter position is freshman Madison Lintz. Making the transition from junior high to high school varsity is a big step,but Lintz has been doing a solid job.
“I think she is going to be a good player,” Maynor said. “As a freshman playing a varsity sport, and throw in playing the difficult setter position, I think she is doing well. I think she is going to be an awesome player when her four years are all said and done. Adjusting to the speed of the game takes time, because it’s a little different then junior high, but she is a phenomenal athlete and she is getting better every game.”
Lintz sets the ball to a pair of veteran hitters. Riley Robbins is a returning outside hitter while Lauren Hathaway is a middle hitter.
“We have two seniors and all the rest are a lot of juniors,” Maynor said. “For the most part we are kind of young.”
One of the juniors that has been stepping up is Jalynne Cunningham, who is playing the Libero or defensive specialist position.
While the team is going through some growing pains, they are picking up experience and improving with each match. Despite the losses, the Railroaders still have some lofty goals, including making another lengthy post-season run.
“We are going to make at run at the league and districts,” Maynor said. “If we can accomplish either one of those, I would be very happy. We have two real tough teams in the league in Mt. Morris and Goodrich. We are just going to try to improve every day and see what we can do.”
By DAVID COOK