August 25, 2011 |

Senior-laden team aims for state; Volleyball season kicks off next week at Wrangell

The Haines volleyball team returns six seniors for another run at the state tournament.

"We’ve got one goal: We want to go to state," said coach Judy Erekson. "We have six seniors and the schedule lines up well. They’re excited and playing a lot more aggressively."

The Glacier Bears will open their season Sept. 2-3 at Wrangell. Their first home matches are Sept. 9-10 against Sitka.

"We have a team of really hard-working girls and a lot of depth in terms of their skills," said assistant coach Liana Shull. "We have a lot of girls who can play solid in the front row and in the back row, and I also think we have some experience going into the season. We’re not a young team anymore."

She said the girls especially are looking forward to facing Sitka. Last November, the Glacier Bears’ season ended with a five-game loss to Sitka at regionals in Ketchikan.

"We have strong returning players, and we’ve known what it’s like to lose and now we want to know what it’s like to win," senior Amey Messerschmidt said. "We’re ready for the next step."

Abby Jones was the lone graduate from last year’s team. The senior class includes Brook Cinocco, Anna Jacobson, Teolani Lynch, Amey and Ashley Messerschmidt and Elizabeth Stevens. Jacobson was an all-conference performer in 2010.

"The season’s been really great so far," Cinocco said. "Everybody’s at a really good skill level and practices have been really good. You can see the improvement just from the first week of practice."

The seniors will have support from juniors Riley Erekson and Alisha Young, who received individual sportsmanship awards at regionals.

"We’re trying really hard and we’re a lot more consistent this year than our previous years," Stevens said. "We’re a lot stronger and our skills are better."

Coach Erekson said the team had about 15 players as of last week, and expected more to join after the start of school.

She said a few of the athletes went to volleyball camp in Juneau earlier this summer, and versatility is one of the team’s strengths. "They’re not all just locked in a setter position or a hitting position. We’re having a hard time deciding who’s going to do what."

The Glacier Bears hosted a four-team volleyball tournament Aug. 19 at the Haines School as a fundraiser for travel costs.

"It was a good turnout for our first annual preseason community scrimmage," Shull said. "We invited the community members and then we had the team members here. When people got here, we divided teams up for equalness, so that everybody could get a chance to play with some stronger players."

The weekends from Sept. 16 to Oct. 8, Haines competes at Mount Edgecumbe, at home against Petersburg, at Metlakatla and at the Juneau Jive Tournament. The Glacier Bears will welcome Craig in Haines Oct. 21-22.

Erekson said other competitions in Juneau or Whitehorse or games against Skagway might be added to the schedule. Regionals will be in Juneau the first week of November.

The team still is looking for residents to house visiting volleyball players during the season. For more information, contact Erekson at 766-6725.