Gaels seek a higher level of consistency

Competing at a higher level more often is the goal this season for the St. Edmond volleyball program.

After back-to-back 11-win campaigns, the Gaels return four letterwinners to the mix. Seniors Anna Yung, Clare Flattery, Jill Salinas and Madeline Baldwin will each be leaned on heavily by head coach Dee Huss.

“We have had a great preseason, and the girls have been working extremely hard,” Huss said. “We graduated four seniors, leaving us with only five returning players from last year’s roster. Thankfully, all four of the seniors are returning letterwinners and were a major part of the rotation last year.”

Yung, a three-sport standout, went 169-for-185 from the service line with 100 kills, 19 aces, 93 digs, 35 assists and 21 blocks in 75 sets last fall en route to earning a spot on the all-North Central Conference third team.

Flattery posted 66 kills, 37 blocks and 22 digs as a junior, while Salinas was 161 of 183 serving with 133 digs and 50 assists. Baldwin added 104 assists, 91 kills, 59 digs and 26 blocks, finishing 168-for-190 on serves with 34 aces.

“The seniors really placed a great deal of their attention on building chemistry first and just having fun,” said Huss. ‘They have shown great leadership and balance when building up the other players, while pushing them to perform outside their comfort zone in order for the whole team to move forward.”

Rounding out the rest of the Gael roster are juniors Lily Peterson, Taylor Lennon and Cassie Brennan-Rowe, sophomores Megan Flattery, Madi Engels, Iris Peimann and Paige Kinney and freshmen Hannah Huss and Livi Huss. Gone from 2013 are Paige Savery, Alli Huss, Kenzie Hawley and Lauren Moeding.

“As coaches, our goal was to create an environment where the younger players could bond quickly with their new teammates yet not feel so overwhelmed that they were afraid to make mistakes,” Huss said. “Learning new systems, improving fundamentals and conditioning was a top priority in our preseason practices.”

No. 3 (Class 3A) Iowa Falls-Alden (28-7 overall, 8-1 NCC a year ago), 11th-ranked (3A) Algona (31-7, 7-2) and No. 14 (4A) Webster City (24-10, 8-1) will all likely contend for the North Central Conference title. Bishop Garrigan and Eagle Grove are now members of the North Iowa Conference.

“Our schedule this season proves to once again be filled with some of the best competition in the state to help prepare us for the postseason,” said Huss. “Our seniors have a good understanding of what it is going to take to be successful and are up for the challenge.”

Danny Zach will assist Huss this season.

St. Edmond debuts tonight at Perry. The annual SEHS Invitational is set for Saturday.