Chad Kuck always seems to be around volleyball.
But when he couldn’t do his usual things as Sheboygan North coach this summer and fall because of the pandemic, senior Lizzie Binder filled in.
“I couldn’t do anything with the girls, so she kind of took over just setting up open gyms at the YMCA,” Kuck said. “She’d call everybody and say ‘we’re doing this time’ and get everybody there. She was on top of everything. Her leadership has been huge. She’s always been a leader, but now it’s completely different. It’s been awesome. Plus, she’s playing really well right now.”
No surprise there, since she’s the reigning co-player of the year in the Fox River Classic and has already committed to Cal State Bakersfield.
She’s also the school’s all-time leader in kills and has made first-team all-FRCC as a sophomore and junior.
Another senior, Hannah Martin, is back as well after making all-conference honorable mention last year.
“She’s looking really good and has been working hard,” Kuck said.
The Golden Eagles’ season began Monday and there was not as much time to prepare for it as there normally is.
Usually, the coach says there are two days of tryouts, a week and a half of practice followed by a possible scrimmaged and then another three or four days of preparation.
“Usually about 12 days of practice, and now we have, I think six practices, and we have our first match,” Kuck said.
With such little time to get ready, it helps to have seven Golden Raiders this unusual season.
“They’re just excited,” Kuck said. “I have seven seniors this year, so it would’ve been crushing if we wouldn’t have had a season.”
The only Redwing to make all-conference last year, Hannah Miller, graduated.
But coach Abby Sigler is confident that her team is going to be much stronger.
“We didn’t really lose any of our attackers or our hitters,” she said. “So we’ve got a very strong offense, which is something we haven’t had in the past – we don’t have big, powerhouse hitters.”
Enter seniors Corinne Pfeifer (middle hitter) and Kaitlyn Stricker (rightside hitter), along with junior Maddie Ognacevic (outside hitter who will also set)
There is also freshman Naomi Harder who will provide depth as a hitter.
But Miller was a four-year varsity setter, the same position Sigler played in high school.
“She’ll definitely be hard to be replaced,” she said. “She wasn’t only a good setter, she was second on the team in kills because she was such an aggressive setter. In order for me to replace that, I also looked into options outside of the box: how can we keep our best players on the court as much as possible?”
So it actually helped that the fall season was delayed.
“I think that’s ultimately helping them right now, being a little bit better than they probably would’ve been last August or September,” Sigler said. “I honestly think it’s going to help us in the long run because it gave us extra time to have open gyms and work on our skills during all that down time. We had a few months off where we weren’t working on anything, but all in all, we got more time than we would’ve if we started in August. And we have really great freshmen group right now that only got better during that time.”
AT A GLANCE
• Senior Lizzie Binder, who will play at Cal State Bakersfield, is the reigning co-player of the year in the conference and is the school’s all-time leader in kills. She made first-team all-FRCC the last two years.
• Hannah Martin, another senior, also made all-conference (honorable mention) last year.
• Natalie Dulmes received honorable mention as well but she graduated.
• Several talented hitters return, including seniors Corinne Pfeifer and Kaitlyn Stricker.
• Junior Maddie Ognacevic will also be a key contributor.
• The lone Redwing to make all-conference last year, Hannah Miller, has to be replaced. The setter was on the second team after getting honorable mention as a junior.