Meadowdale has a lot of work ahead if it going to make its third straight appearance at the Class 3A state volleyball tournament.
The Mavericks graduated five seniors from last year’s team, which won their first match at state before eventually being eliminated.
Of the five, three were crucial players in the middle, defense and setting. Four players are back, three of whom were starters.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” said Meadowdale coach Machen Shrum. “We’re still working on filling the rest of the holes and figuring out the chemistry. It’s a different group of kids.”
Meadowdale will build around outside hitter Lindsey Milner, outside hitter Emily Denham and new setter Payton Shrum, the coach’s daughter. This is Payton Shrum’s first season as a setter.
“It’s a big change for us,” Machen Shrum said. “This summer was her first opportunity to set in a couple of tournaments. She’s still working to improve and learning that position. She’s taking the challenge on and is doing a good job.”
The Meadowdale offense looks to be good shape with Milner and Denham.
“That’s a lot of firepower,” Machen Shrum said of Milner and Denham. “Those two are probably our hardest hitters.”
Another key player is Tessa Helber, who is projected to start on the right side.
“I think our talent is good. The talent is strong,” Machen Shrum said. “It’s just finding the right way to put it together. Individually we have good skills. We have really strong hitters. We have a strong defense. We still have positions that are open and not necessarily filled.”
The Mavericks’ success the last two years has boosted turnout, which numbered 50 this year.
The four returning players should be ready to handle whatever pressure comes this season.
“I feel we’re gaining experience at high levels and the high pressure level will help us through the regular season,” Machen Shrum said.