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Influx of inexperience: Dickinson enters season with a wealth of underclassmen, few returners

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson High senior middle hitter Meryl Kovacs, left, watches the ball sail over a pair of Bismarck St. Mary’s defenders during a West Region game on Sept. 5 at DHS gymnasium.

Jay Schobinger can count the number of players with substantial varsity experience on four fingers.

Most coaches would be worried.

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That’s not the case for the 22-year veteran Dickinson High volleyball coach. Schobinger is excited about the opportunities.

“We came into the season with about four kids with some varsity experience,” he said. “We are very inexperienced, very young, but there are 18 kids on any given day are showing that they deserve to play. It has been interesting. It has been fun.

“The competition in practice has been great. The kids show up, work hard and they are eager to learn. There’s an energy that ends up being contagious.”

The Midgets ended last season with a 17-21 record and didn’t reach the state tournament. The returners with varsity experience are seniors Meryl Kovacs, Lillie Meduna and sophomore Sarah Dobitz. Dickinson senior Marissa Schroeder, who played and started at middle hitter during the 2013 season, has been unable to practice due to a knee injury.

Meduna — a setter — shares Schobinger’s excitement about the influx of young talent.

“I personally think it’s really nice because a lot of those girls don’t have bad habits,” she said. “They are going to be really enthused getting on the floor and playing varsity. We are a young team, but every time we step on the floor we are getting better.”

Despite many of the players having limited to no varsity experience, practices have been extremely competitive. The reason — there’s a wealth of playing time for any player that’s willing work hard.

“That’s where it does come from,” Schobinger said. “We are really emphasizing the team concept in that every day there’s competition and the kids that maybe dress for this tournament are going to be different than the kids that dress the next tournament.”

The younger players might not have much varsity experience, but that’s about to change this weekend as the Midgets travel to the two-day Bismarck Tournament which begins today. Dickinson opens the tournament against Fargo North at 2 p.m. at Karlgaard gymnasium.

“This week in practice, the energy is there and we are really excited,” Kovacs said. “We get to play a lot of different teams, so we get some different experiences.”

Dickinson is taking 14 players to the tournament and the underclassmen which will see time are juniors Katie LaFond, Ireland Jung, McKenzie Mortensen and sophomores Jayde Lawlar, Aspen Galster, Sadie Dvorak.

Schobinger is also bringing four freshmen Lexi Jordheim, Mariah Mortensen, Reagan Linster and Morgan Kainz.

“Of the 14 we are going to take, four are going to be freshmen,” Schobinger said. “We aren’t going to put the young kids in too tough of situations. We aren’t to ask them to do too much. We just want them to go out, play the game and have fun.”

Dickinson High Midgets

Head coach: Jay Schobinger (22nd season)

Last season: 17-21

Returners: Meryl Kovacs, Sr., OH; Marissa Schroeder, Sr., MH; Lillie Meduna, Sr., S; Sarah Dobitz, So., DS.

Newcomers: ; Katie LaFond, Jr., DS; Ireland Jung, Jr., S; McKenzie Mortensen, Jr.; Aspen Galster, So.; Jayde Lawlar, So.; Sadie Dvorak, So.; Lexi Jordheim, Fr., OH; Mariah Mortensen, Fr., MH; Raegan Linster, Fr., Morgan Kainz, Fr.

Losses: Madison Schobinger, S; Sierra Rohr, MH; Sydney Gangl, MH; Avery Privratsky, MH; Mariah Jorda, DS/S; Leah Marcusen, OH; Mackee Hoffmann, Libero.