Montabella volleyball Stephanie Hoyt expects to have a special season in 2021.
Last season, “we struggled greatly to finish out the game,” Hoyt said. “However, when it comes to team atmosphere and basic skills, as we went through the season things began to start clicking for the girls. I saw more kills and digs on the stats and a better point differential in the book as time went on.
“This is only my second year as varsity coach, however I remember quite a few girls that were great assets to the team and have even come back throughout the summer to work with girls on their strength areas. Jordan Rose was a fantastic hitter and even stepped into the setting role at one point as well. She had an extremely high jump and a great wrist snap that put the ball in the deep corner. “Brooklyn Knopf also was a middle hitter and an asset when it came to blocking. She is a tall one that got many touches on the ball to help slow down the play for the girls in the back row. Last year, we graduated one senior, Makenna Jensen. She was an all-around player that did a great job digging the ball and going through and getting the ball in play.
“Madison Jordan is mainly a middle hitter for the Mustangs, “but has been our setter lately as she is out with a concussion,” Hoyt said. “Madison is a sophomore this year and this is also her second year on varsity. Now that she is not the low man on the totem pole, I expect to see her continue to thrive and be more aggressive in the front row, while not being shy to communicate with her peers.
“She is learning multiple different hits in the front row and playing with much more confidence and I only expect that she will continue to make growth in these areas.”
Sara Courser is an outside hitter.
“She is a senior this year and has improved tremendously,” Hoyt said. “She has come out of her shell a lot and has gained quite a bit of height to her jumps for blocks and hits. Although she may be a lefty, hitting from the outside, she comes in and gets the job done with a nice hard hit to the corners. We know that she is one of the few people that we can count on to hit the ball over regardless of what the set looks like.”
Bralynn Clark is a defensive specialist.
“She is a junior this year and has stepped into the role of being one of our ‘professional’ passers,” Hoyt said. “She is the one we look to for help with the corner hits and tips and gets the ball up and is ready to hit it back from the back row. I expect her to be able to get some of those tough balls and to have good communication with the libero.”
Kiana Nickerson is a setter.
“Kiana is a sophomore and she is one of our main setters,” Hoyt said. “She is tiny, but extremely mighty and not only does she play the back row as a setter, but also is able to play the front row as a hitter. She does a great job at getting up off the floor and has a decent reach to be able to block the ball.
“I expect that she will continue to grow and learn more of the setting placements for the ball, but also that she gets higher up there to get better attacks to the other side of the court with stronger arm swings.”
Alexis Jordan is an outside hitter.
“She is a junior and one of the most experienced varsity players on the team,” Hoyt said. “When she is on, she is on, and it is tough for other opponents. My expectation is that she doesn’t put too much pressure on herself and that she is able to stay out of her head and in the moment, as that is when she plays the best.”
Kalia Adams is a middle hitter.
“Kalia is a sophomore who was pulled up to assist at the middle of the season with injuries and sicknesses,” Hoyt said. “She has had a tremendous amount of growth and commitment throughout the off season to where she has earned herself a starting spot in the front row.
“She reads the ball well and does her best to get it from one point to another. I expect that she maintains good showmanship in herself and her team and that she works hard to overcome some of the obstacles that get thrown her way such as a bad set and late reaction.”
Hoyt has high expectations for this team.
“I really want to start winning some trophies and bringing home the hardware,” Hoyt said. “I expect my girls to come to practice every day ready to play as if it were the district final game and we are down by five points. I always bring those reminders back to the girls when we are struggling to keep it together.
“My team has a great dynamic of talent this year. We have some high numbers that we are able to work with and use to our advantage. I believe that our strength is our aggression at the net and each girl wanting to get the block and hit. As we start the season and play more games, I realize that we need more work on adjusting to the hitters and covering the middle. We need more work on being able to know when it is a hit versus a tip and what we should look like when that happens.”
Montabella hopes to be a factor in the Mid-State Activities Conference.
“We have a lot of great and talented teams in our conference,” Hoyt said. “I would say that St Charles, Breckenridge, and Sacred Heart are the top three teams in the conference. But in order to fit in with the rest of them and be able to come out on top, we really have to do our best not to play it safe and continue to hit the ball versus just sending it over.”
The lessening of COVID-related restriction compared to a year ago has been a bonus.
“I expected with preseason that more girls would have come to the open gyms and the weightlifting, since restrictions have been lifted,” Hoyt said. “However, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Don’t get me wrong, I did have girls show up and we were able to get a lot of basic foundational skills out of the way in the beginning.
“It was certainly a breath of fresh air being able to be on the court and in the gym with my girls without having to worry about all of the other components of social distancing, sanitizing, and masks. I am truly excited to coach this group of girls and I cannot wait to see how the rest of the season begins to unfold.”