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NCHS Netters Expect Improvement

Posted: Thursday, Aug 29th, 2013

Photo/Sandra Johnson

In Kelley Nelson’s first season as head volleyball coach, the Lady Tigers took far more losses than wins but with nine returning letter winners she looks to turn things around. “We’ve spent a lot of the off season trying some new things, learning to be more consistent and trying to improve our mental toughness. In years past this was a weakness but it’s not going to be an issue this year.” Countless times over the past few years NCHS would start out well but then falter at crunch time. “I’ve told the seniors that when the going gets tough, you’ve got to get going,” added Nelson.

Seniors Hailey Bruegger, Jessica Bruegger, Kasssidy Miller and Jayci Shoults have seen plenty of varsity action over the past two years and are ready to lead the team back to regionals. “It’s an expectation this year to make it to regionals and from there go to state,” said Miller. “We don’t want to make it a goal, we want it to be an expectation.” Fellow seniors Kodi Krejci and Rishell Lizasuain have improved and are looking to provide depth on the team.

“Our seniors have been really positive leaders so far, this is my first group all the way through and it’s been special to see how much they’ve grown,” Nelson said.

Juniors McKayle Mosley and Kylie Gaukel have looked good so far according to the coaches and bring some height to the squad. “We’ve watched them in practice and they’re both almost mirror images of each other in terms of body type, athleticism and mentality- they’re quiet leaders, and we can put them almost anywhere on the court.”

The sophomore class is deep and talented as Lexi Blackburn, Lexie Dockery, Amber Jensen and Emma Zerbe all saw time at the varsity level last season. “They’re not a typical group of kids, even as freshmen they weren’t really like typical freshmen.” Nelson said. “We could really come down on them if needed and do have high expectations of them.” Their continued improvement will be a factor in the success of this year’s team. Angelina Bannan and Stevie Mellott round out the sophomore class.

The freshman group is very quiet and inexperienced. “How we handled last year’s freshmen is totally different than how we handle this year’s group,” said Nelson. All coaches agree that the Class of 2017 has some height and athleticism to them, it’s just a matter of them coming out of their freshman shell.

Erin Hodge and Kitson Boldon return as assistant coaches, and for the first time in several years all three coaches are healthy and able to practice with the team on a regular basis. “They give us more competition and even Principle Wood has said he wants to come up and play middle against us,” said Lizasuain. Senior Collette Graham and Junior Amber Behrens are the team managers and have been keeping everyone on schedule and getting things done.

The Lady Tigers are brimming with confidence and looking to get NCHS back on the right path to consistent play and deep tournament runs. “We need to be more consistent on the court,” said Hailey Bruegger. “And, communication on the court is a big thing. We have it at times, but then sometimes we don’t, but having it all the time is important for us to be successful.”

As usual, the strongest 2A teams come from the northeast region as Wright, Sundance and Big Horn all have high expectations. Defending state champ Lovell, and Thermopolis will still be tough out west. The SEWAC is wide open and Coach Nelson feels that any given night a win is possible.

The Lady Tigers open the season this Friday and Saturday at the Saratoga tournament. The C-squad will travel to Newcastle Saturday for a tournament. Lusk’s first home game is Sept. 7 as Southeast visits Tiger Gym at 1 p.m.

For the complete article see the 08-28-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 08-28-2013 paper.

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