The Ballard volleyball team is counting on talented youth to help the program turn the corner in 2014.
Last season the Bombers went 6-20 overall and 2-5 in the Raccoon River Conference under first-year head coach Morgan Hassman. The two conference wins was an improvement from two years ago and Hassman is looking for the upward trend to continue this fall.
"I am very excited and ready for the season to start," Hassman said. "I am most excited to see the growth from last year. We have lots of young talent that we are trying to continue to build up. The girls have a great work ethic and positive attitudes."
Hassman said she thinks the Raccoon River Conference will be a wide-open race in 2014.
"I think all teams have a shot at the conference title," Hassman said. "We are looking forward to playing all the teams again, especially the ones we fought hard against, but couldn’t pull through last year."
Ballard must replace its two kill leaders from a year ago in Brooke Mallon and Alanna Dubberke. But Meredith Ossian and Hannah Larson are back after productive sophomore seasons at the net.
Ossian had 82 kills and 99 blocks at middle hitter last season. Larson put up 65 kills at outside hitter in 2013.
Sophomore Abby Carlin returns at setter. Carlin handed out 185 assists last fall and she also produced 46 blocks and 33 kills.
Senior Alex Petersen will lead Ballard in the back row from her libero position. Petersen led the team in digs a year ago with 90.
Junior Emily Jurgensen also has experience in the back row after producing 44 digs last season.
Right-side hitters Lauren Schmidt and Madison Knutson, middle hitters Gabi Doud and Miranda Noack, outside hitter Lydia Shepley, defensive specialist Brenna Ripp, setter Cassidy Shepley and Madison Houge make up the rest of the Bomber varsity lineup. Schmidt and Houge are seniors, Lydia Shepley, Ripp and Doud are juniors, Knutson is a sophomore and Cassidy Shepley is a freshman.
Ballard opened the season Tuesday with a triangular match against Gilbert and Nevada at Gilbert.