Three years ago, seven students in the seventh grade and three in the eighth grade expressed interest in improving their volleyball skills to Trisha Spencer, who was then the seventh grade volleyball coach. Spencer started a Junior Olympic (JO) volleyball team as a result of that interest. Last year, the JO program nearly tripled its numbers having enough girls for three teams. This year, 36 girls signed up.
The 13s team, coached by Brad Studenski and Max McHugh, consisted of four 9-year-olds making for a very young team playing at that level of competition. The team ended the season going nearly undefeated during pool play and finishing fourth in the Gold Division. Cierra Gottwalt, 9, went on a serving streak with eight serves in a row, five of which were aces. Prior to the Cokato tournament, Gottwalt also led her team with a 17 serving streak in Foley.
The 14s team, coached by Trisha Spencer, had a successful season earning a second in Gold division at the Mid-Winter Classic, a second in the Silver Division at the Spring Fling, first in Bronze at the Foley Tournament and second in the Silver division at the Baxter Tournament and the Cokato Tournament. The leading server in the final tournament was Haley Skajewski, serving nine serves in a row, including three aces. Brandi Kloss found her swing mid-season and sixth-grader Kalli Poster added to the offense with her passing abilities.
The 15s team, coached by Jen Albright, learned a great deal about what can make and break a team. It was a rough start, but the team made progress and ended on a higher note. Kayla Skroch added to the team’s offense serving extremely well at the Cokato Tournament.
The 16s team, coached by Katie Richie, earned a first place in the Silver Division, and ended with some exciting and competitive matches against some much larger teams. The team brought home a second place in the Gold Division at the final tournament in Cokato.
“I’m very excited to see the progress these girls are making. The hard work, dedication and commitment is bound to pay off. My goal is to continue giving these girls opportunities to grow and if they stay as focused as they are now we have a bright future ahead of us,” said Spencer.
Albright, who is a parent and a coach, said, “The girls have gained so much by joining the Royalton JO program. You can see the changes from the beginning to the end. They should feel proud and excited to be growing with a wonderful group of girls who all want to learn and contribute to the Royalton volleyball program.”