Strong senior presence has Bulldog volleyball team poised to make strides this season

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Members of the 2016 MFL MarMac varsity volleyball team include (front, left to right) Amber Adney, Emily Hanson, Kayla Keehner, Kylie Moose, Aspen Havlicek; (back) Jayde Schubert, Julie Lenth, Josie Kleinow, Kelsi Davis, Nicole Heins, Ali Crogan, Jade Gerndt and Anjela Waterman. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

With seven returning seniors, including two, in Amber Adney and Kayla Keehner, with varsity-level experience for four years, the MFL MarMac volleyball program is poised to make strides this season.

“We have been slowly building the program, and hopefully this will be a year we see more wins that we did not have last year,” said Natalie Heiring, now in her fifth year with the team and second season as head coach. She is joined by assistant coach Joe Milewsky, who has 15 years of experience. “Last year, the girls surprised themselves by beating some teams they have never beaten. It is nice to see the girls do well after they have been working on building the program for so long.”

Heiring said the Bulldogs hope to reap the benefits of significant off-season work, which included summer league play at Hoffman Hall in Prairie du Chien, two camps at UW-Platteville and UNI and a skills camp in Monona with Iowa State.

“This is the first year we have put this much time in in the summer months,” she said.

Adney and Keehner will be strong leaders and fun to watch this season, Heiring mentioned, as they can both put together good combinations that result in points. She also cited Nicole Heins’ strong middle front presence and Aspen Havlicek’s strong setting and ball placement capabilities as additional factors for MFL MarMac.

“Kylie Moose is another strong passer and hitter to watch,” Heiring noted. “She is also very good at placing the ball in places where the opponents are not.”

Heiring said Josie Kleinow and Jayde Schubert, both sophomores, are some younger players who will fill key roles this season.

“Kleinow is learning a new outside hitter position that seems to be a good match for her. She will be doing some blocking for us also,” Heiring said. “Schubert will be joining the varsity level this year. She does a great job of reading the ball. She also does a great job of passing the ball.”

 Aside from the seniors, Heiring said the juniors, sophomores and freshmen were all involved in the extra camps and leagues this summer. 

A strong freshman squad of 11 girls, which brings both talent and skills to the program, bodes well for the future, Heiring said.

“It is exciting to see so many young players with skills that we need them to have,” she said. “It is also nice to see a big freshman team that already plays well together.”

As the season progresses, Heiring said the team will focus on closing the gap on skill abilities and further strengthening the younger players’ skills. Two more players will likely be added to the varsity roster later this season, she added.

Heiring shared that Kee, Postville, South Winn, North Fayette Valley and Clayton Ridge are some teams MFL MarMac would like to play well against, and beat, this season.

“We will be looking at each team and will play so we can capitalize on their weaknesses,” she said.

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