Jackson tries to build upon district success

  • David Pan<br>Enterprise sports editor
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:11am

MILL CREEK — The 2003 Jackson volleyball team may look an awful lot like last year’s district playoff squad, but looks can be deceiving.

The Timberwolves return the core of last season’s team — six players — but the addition of some talented newcomers means that Jackson will be a far different team.

One notable difference is height. The Wolfpack has tons of it.

Returning middle blockers Ashley Allen and Emilee Eisinger are 6-foot-2 and 6-1, respectively. Outside hitter and co-captain Lindsey Johnson is 5-10 and new outside hitters Brianna Rockenstire and Sam McCracken each are 5-11.

“It’s the first time in Jackson history we have some height,” said Wolfpack coach Amy Riesinger. “I’m hoping that we’re going to use that to our advantage because we’ve always been lacking in the blocking department. So I’m thinking we might be strong this year blocking-wise.”

Along with the added height, the Timberwolves should be a far more dynamic offensive team than they were a year ago.

For the most part, Jackson was known as a defensive-minded team in 2002.

Not so this season.

“For the first time in quite a few years we’ll be powerful in the front row,” Johnson said. “Last year we played a really defensive game. This year hopefully it will be more offensive … We have some strong blockers and also powerful hitters up front.

“I think it’s exciting for the front row to finally get a chance to show their skills.”

Senior co-captain Meaghan Craig sees Jackson as a more balanced squad.

“We still have a good defense,” she said. “We’re a more well-rounded team this year.”

Unlike past years when Riesinger ended up carrying 11 or 12 players, she plans to go with a 10-player roster.

That means that every player will see action and will have a role on the team.

“I’m going to have a good quality group and the girls on the bench are going to be needed at some point,” Riesinger said. “I have a really versatile group of kids. I have a group of juniors that can kind of play all around, like utility girls. So that’s exciting for me because I can kind of throw them in anywhere and they seem to produce well.”

Jackson played inconsistently last season and only advanced to the playoffs because Everett lost its final regular season match.

The Timberwolves made the most of their opportunity, winning a pigtail match to move on to the Northwest District 4A tournament.

Jackson dropped its district opener but bounced back for a pair of victories before losing to Stanwood in a winner-to-state/loser out match.

To go from almost not making the playoffs to nearly earning a state berth was an amazing experience for the players and Riesinger.

The lack of pressure on the Timberwolves was a factor, according to Riesinger.

“We were basically playing for fun,” she said.

Johnson noted that an element of pride also crept in. She said that few people thought that Jackson would make it to districts.

“Let’s show them that we do deserve that spot,” was the thinking of many of the players when the tournament started, Johnson said.

Last year’s district tournament was the first postseason experience for most — if not all — of the players and provides ample motivation for the six returners.

“They all got a taste for what districts is like,” Riesinger said. “They know what that feels like and they want it back again. They want to get farther than they did. I think we have the talent to do that.”

The returning players agree.

“Having that success, we know that we can totally go back there (districts) again,” Craig said. “We lost some players. We also have players who came up and who can fill their positions … I think we can stay with any team.”

Talk to us