HARTINGTON - Experience, in a new territory.
That describes the Hartington-Newcastle volleyball team in a nutshell this year. The team moves down to Class D1 this year, but lost just one senior.
Last year, the Wildcats showed great potential, finishing 23-6 with a loss to Ponca in subdistricts. In fact, it did not just show potential. It tied for the school’s best season record in the past decade.
Returning this year is the libero/defensive specialist Autumn Lammers; hitters Belle Harms, Kayden Jueden, Abbe Morten, Evvie Krie and Gina Jueden; and setter Liby Lange.
Morten led the team with 220 kills last year, with Kayden Jueden right behind her at 213. Lange was the main setter all last season, finishing with 637 assists.
Head coach Leigh Haselhorst notes that the team has a strong front line filled with experience this year.
“We have a lot of balanced hitters and blockers,” said Haselhorst. “Our strengths will definitely be our defense and hustle.”
Leading the defense at the net will be Harms. Standing over six feet, she made a name for herself last year with her blocking ability in both volleyball and basketball.
Harms finished the season with 149 kills and led the team with 53 blocks.
According to Haselhorst who ran the offseason workout program as well, Kayden Jueden has put in a lot of work this summer in preparation to improve from her strong freshman year.
“Kayden Jueden was the girl with the most appearances,” said Haselhorst. “We haven’t tested their maxes yet but I can already tell a huge difference in Kayden’s volleyball play from the weight program this summer.”
Haselhorst says the drop to Class D1 does not change the team’s schedule much. However, Sub-District assignments have not been released yet and it can be imagined that any postseason route for HNS would be different from last year’s Class C2 Sub-District with Cedar Catholic, Ponca, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, and Crofton.