Volleyball: Pierz season preview

Replacing last year’s all-area player of the year Bridget Bednar was always going to be a momentous task for Pierz.

Trying to do it with the top candidate to fill her shoes on the shelf due to injury will be even tougher.

But, Pierz will push on, hoping the strength of returning senior starters in setter Jessica Hawks and outside hitter Raychel Virnig, as well sophomore Cassie Smieja now at middle hitter, will enable them to build off of last year’s 19-win season.

“You just don’t replace a player like Bridget,” Pierz head coach Sandy Tautges said. “We were hoping for big things from Kayla Carter, who went down this summer with a severe break in her forearm. We are working hard with a few of our younger players and believe they can come in and make us competitive.

“We will be looking to Jessica Hawks and Raychel Virnig to be leaders on and off the court,” she said. “We do expect them to be great role models and teach what winning is all about. Our expectations for this year’s team will not change without Bridget in the lineup. The team will continue to develop their cohesiveness and work toward (their goals).”

Looking to round out the rest of the starting lineup will be senior Kendra Fischer (middle hitter) and sophomores Rebecca Athman (outside hitter), Hannah Kahl (defensive specialist), Leah Fuhrman (setter) and Claire Reardon (libero).

Pierz is scheduled to open the season at home against Aitkin, Tuesday.