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Midgets volleyball back with experienced group

Tuesday was team photo day, and the seniors on the Dickinson High volleyball team arranged themselves according to the instructions from the photographer in front of them inside the school's main gymnasium.

Dickinson High senior libero Sarah Dobitz serves the ball during a match against Mandan Sept. 17, 2015, at DHS gymnasium. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)
Dickinson High senior libero Sarah Dobitz serves the ball during a match against Mandan Sept. 17, 2015, at DHS gymnasium. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

Tuesday was team photo day, and the seniors on the Dickinson High volleyball team arranged themselves according to the instructions from the photographer in front of them inside the school's main gymnasium.

Some were seated and some were standing, but some didn't extend their arms enough during the "tah-dah!" pose the photographer had requested. But admittedly, with seven seniors, the process was more complex than it had been in the past.

The Midgets had just one senior last season along with a handful of juniors and sophomores. A year later, the Midgets are boasting a roster that is no longer a youthful bunch.

And they like it that way.

"We've been considered a young team for a while now," senior libero Sarah Dobitz said, "and now we're all upperclassmen. We've had varsity experience, and now that we have that mentality that we've been doing this for a long time, we have more confidence heading into the season."

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That new outlook will surely come in handy for a team that went 11-25 overall last season with a 4-14 mark in the West Region. The Midgets begin their new season with a tournament at Bismarck Legacy on Friday and Saturday. Their first home match is at 7 p.m. next Tuesday against Bismarck High.

"We have more of an experienced bunch, and you can see the difference every day in practice," head coach Jay Schobinger said. "There's some experience back, and there's some higher expectations.

In addition to the loss of senior McKenzie Mortensen, the Midgets also saw would-be juniors Rachel Haataja and Raegan Linster move away. Linster was sidelined by an injury for part of last season but was generally intrenched as the team's starting setter.

In the preseason, Schobinger has looked at senior Sadi Dvorak and junior Marley McChesney to fill that void at setter. Junior Lexi Jordheim is also in the mix along with sophomore Lauren Jorda, once she returns from an injury.

"They've done a pretty good job for never having been a setter," Schobinger said. "We have to find the one that can set the ball consistently in a good spot. That will be the big tell-tale sign, right there."

In her brief time as a setter, Jordheim - normally an outside hitter - has learned just how different the new position can be.

"Us being juniors and seniors, I think most girls learn (setting) freshman year, eighth grade, so it's hard to pick something up and master it within a week before our first game," she said.

Once the setter is determined, then the offense can focus on getting the ball to its stable of hitters: Jordheim, juniors Mariah Mortensen and Morgan Kainz, and seniors Paige Schweitzer and Jayde Lawlar.

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"I think we'll get on a roll once it gets going," Jordheim said.

While the offense gets up to speed, Schobinger expects the team's defense to set the tone in the early part of the season.

"We have our core of hitters, but I think our strength is going to be defensively. We should have some fairly good ball control," he said. "Sarah Dobitz may end up being one of the best liberos we've ever had here. She has blossomed into an exceptional volleyball player. Our defense will keep us in games, and they're going to have to. With inexperienced setters, it may take a while to get the feel for everything."

Dobitz said the team feels adequately prepared to have the defense help out the offense and put pressure on the opponent.

"We went to a fundamentals camp this summer, and we basically passed for two days straight," she said. "It was so much passing, but you can tell that our serve-receive is so much stronger this season. We've all improved a lot."

Schobinger can see that also.

"They've all grown up," he said. "There's a confidence level now that is starting to come out. A lot of these kids have been battle-tested for two years. We've dealt with a lot of ups and downs, and there isn't much this group hasn't seen in the last couple years."

Dickinson High Midgets

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Head coach: Jay Schobinger

2015 result: 11-25, 4-14 West Region

Returners: Sarah Dobitz, Sr., Sadi Dvorak, Sr., Jayde Lawlar, Sr., Paige Schweitzer, Sr., Brianna Larsen, Sr., Katie Riely, Sr., Aspen Galster, Sr., Lexi Jordheim, Jr., Morgan Kainz, Jr., Mariah Mortensen, Jr.

Newcomers: Marley McChesney, Jr., Lauren Jorda, Soph.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
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