By PATRICK SLACK
The Pierz girls tennis team had five players graduate from last year’s section qualifying roster, but six return as the Pioneers look to make another strong postseason run.
Leading Pierz will be the returning starter at No. 1 singles, senior Tarynn Kasper, who also qualified for the individual section tournament.
Junior Kiah Marschel started at fourth singles a year ago and will also look to be a fixture in the singles lineup behind Kasper.
Last year’s all-conference No. 2 doubles duo of seniors Abby Bujalski and Sara Schlegel will be the favorites to move into the top doubles spot, with seniors Becca Froelich and Morgan Waytashek returning with varsity doubles experience.
New players expected to compete for varsity action are senior Candice Funk, juniors Emily Okroi and Stephanie Brill and sophomores Kelsey Moulzolf, Shelbie Boser, Nikki Hoheisel, Beth Oldakowski, Becca Czech and Talyre Boser.
Seniors on this year’s team include Kasper, Bujalski, Schlegel, Froelich, Waytashek and Funk.
Graduating from last year’s team were Amanda Nordmann, Anna Poster, Chantel Naill, Kendra Fuhrman and Lisa Langer.
“(We) would love to make it back to the section playoffs and have more individual qualifiers also,” head coach Karla Jensen said.
Pierz will be competing in the Granite Ridge Conference for the first time this season after previously competing in the Central Minnesota Conference.
The Pioneers were scheduled to open the season with a home tri against Little Falls and Pequot Lakes, Friday.
This week, Pierz plays at Foley, Tuesday, hosts Crosby-Ironton and Pine City, Thursday, and plays at Aitkin, Friday.