Wolfpack girls begin season tonight against LHNE

ELGIN — One step short of qualifying for the Girls State Volleyball Tournament one year ago, Elgin Public-Pope John has their eyes on the prize heading into the start of the 2019 season.
Having developed the Wolfpack into one of the premiere high school volleyball teams in northeast Nebraska, Coach Tina Thiele-Blecher and her assistant coaches (Sandi Henn and Chelsi Childers) are busy preparing the team for the new season.
Last season the Wolfpack compiled a 21-12 record, bowing out in the sub-state round to Lindsay Holy Family. Taking nothing away from their opponent, Coach Thiele-Blecher said the loss was a bitter pill to swallow for coaches and the team, knowing they didn’t play their best volleyball.
The two best players from last year’s team are gone (Ally Wemhoff and Kaylee Martinsen), yet there are enough returning letterwinners as well as some new faces which give the coaches a reason to believe this season could be the one where they return to Lincoln to bask in state tournament glory.
Senior starters Kayce Kallhoff and Haley Zegers return to provide ample offense at the net. An outside hitter, Kallhoff was second on the team in kills with 196. Zegers, in limited action due to injury, notched 160 kills and added a team-high 41 solo blocks. Those numbers should improve. They, along with senior Faith Kinney, should provide the leadership which Coach Thiele-Blecher looks for in the seniors on the team.
Juniors Kirsten Krebs and Harlie Bode should play more prominent roles this year. Coach Thiele-Blecher said Krebs had developed into a player who can see the court for all six rotations. Bode’s role will be as a middle hitter. The twosome last year accounted for 223 kills and 36 solo blocks at the net.
Two other juniors, Ally Selting and Skylar Reestman provide the Wolfpack with excellent back row coverage. Selting had 153 digs last year and was third on the team in serve receive with 221. Reestman saw limited on the varsity, but appears ready as the season approaches.
Coach Thiele-Blecher said sophomore Lexi Bode, who saw more and more action as the season progressed last year, could be the player who has the biggest upside this year. The tallest player on the team, Bode has, according to her coach, the best all around game.
Sophomore Kaylee Ramold and freshmen Taylynne Charf and Skylar Meis will play important roles this season as well. Ahead of the jamboree, Coach Thiele-Blecher was optimistic that Charf could fill the role of setter on the team as, last year, Wemhoff had 700 of the team’s 805 set assists. “Losing a four-year setter (Wemhoff) is tough, but we’ve got some players who can step into the position and play,” she said.
The team faces a daunting schedule. Competition is fierce and you don’t have to go very far to find good teams. Coach Thiele-Blecher said Chambers/Wheeler Central returns a lot of power and are going to be tough to beat. So, too, will be newly consolidated Summerland (Clearwater, Ewing, Orchard).
Annually the Wolfpack play one of the most competitive schedules of any school around. They do so because the coaching staff believes teams only get better when playing tough foes week after week. It may take the Wolfpack a few matches to find themselves, but when they do, look out because they will be a team to contend with come October.
“The whole purpose of the season is to play your best at the end of the season,” Coach Thiele-Blecher said. “At the end of October we want to be where we want to be.”
The Wolfpack open the regular season at home Thursday night, Aug. 29, against powerhouse Lutheran High Northeast.