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Titans volleyball players look to prosper in new positions

The Dickinson Trinity volleyball team is going through an overhaul entering the 2016 season, but the Titans have an advantage that most other rebuilding teams might not: seven seniors.

Dickinson Trinity senior outside hitter Sarah Mayer attempts a kill Oct. 15, 2015, against Watford City at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Submitted Photo by Jim Berger)
Dickinson Trinity junior outside hitter Sarah Mayer attempts a kill Oct. 15, 2015, against Watford City at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Submitted Photo by Jim Berger)

The Dickinson Trinity volleyball team is going through an overhaul entering the 2016 season, but the Titans have an advantage that most other rebuilding teams might not: seven seniors.

Some of those seniors - Abby Jones, Sarah Kerkman - are battle tested. Others - Abby Pavlicek, Lauren Stafford, Zoe Fath, Emma Veverka, Katie Scherer - are a little more raw.

Still, head coach Breanna Messer believes she has a group of quick learners.

"We lost five seniors - all starters - and since Day 1 we've talked about the shoes that need to be filled," Messer said. "We have young girls, and we have the talent. It'll take patience, but in the past week, girls have been stepping up and realizing they might be able to fill those shoes. We're just trying to adjust and get the chemistry down."

The Titans begin their season on Saturday at the Coal Country Tournament in Beulah. They'll have their first match at 7 p.m. next Thursday at Mott-Regent.

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Jones, the libero, said the team will need to go through the process of growing comfortable on the court together.

"It's different because we do have a lot of older players, but not a lot of experience," she said. "But you can tell the maturity level. ... It's not very hard to adjust. Volleyball is volleyball - you pass, set, spike. You get in the routine pretty fast. We're communicating really well amongst each other."

Junior Sarah Mayer has switched from a right side hitter last season to an outside hitter this year, and Messer said she's taken the change in stride.

"She's on the completely opposite side of the court now so the sets are different, the balls are different, she sees the court differently, but she's been adjusting really well," Messer said. "It's been a really smooth transition for her. She's got a powerful swing, she makes smart decisions, so she's been doing very well on the outside."

Kerkman will also see a new position on the floor, moving from the back row to an outside hitter, her more natural position.

"It's a lot more work. I've been adjusting a lot," she said. "I've been learning new hits and getting back in the rhythm of things."

The team's four main hitters and blockers from last season - Alanna Sickler, Kennedy Keator, Brianna Soehren and Madi Jahner - have all graduated, and so has that team's setter, Chloe Ridl, meaning that the offense will feature several other new names.

Sophomore Alexa Walby is getting the first crack at being the team's new setter.

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"She doesn't have any varsity experience, but she knows the game very, very well," Messer said. "A little bit of work and patience in practice, and she's going to fit right in. She's accepted her role and has a go-getter attitude. She's been doing wonderful for us as a setter."

At the middles, Messer envisions Stafford and sophomore Masy Kuntz to step in to provide some defense at the net.

"The talent is there and the knowledge of the game is there. It's just working with chemistry and timing and all that stuff will come throughout the season," Messer said. "Right now, we're just focusing on fundamentals and technical things to get us prepared for this weekend. We're going to get there. Midseason, I think you'll see a lot of improvement from us."

For as inexperienced as the Titans may be, one thing they don't lack is the self-assurance that they can still be a threat in Region 7.

"Everybody has the (varsity) jersey for a reason," Kerkman said. "They're all slowly starting to get into it and getting more confident, and you can see that throughout the practices."

Dickinson Trinity Titans

Head coach: Breanna Messer

2015 result: 25-10-3, lost to Hazen in Region 7 championship match

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Returners: Abby Jones, Sr., Abby Pavlicek, Sr., Sarah Kerkman, Sr., Lauren Stafford, Sr., Sarah Mayer, Jr., Tylla Roshau, Jr.

Newcomers: Emma Veverka, Sr., Katie Scherer, Sr., Zoe Fath, Sr., Megan Krebs, Jr., Masy Kuntz, Soph., Alexa Walby, Soph., Farrah Zeller, Soph.

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
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