Last season’s recap: The Eagles won their first WIAA Division 2 tournament game against Columbus, but fell in their next regional game to Lake Mills.
Coach’s resume: Kaley Jacobson Spiegel enters her third season as the head coach of Jefferson.
Top returners: Junior setter/defensive specialist Savannah Serdynski comes into this season with two years of varsity experience.
“She will need to take on a large leadership role this year after graduating eight seniors last year,” Jacobson Spiegel said. “She is a great communicator and energizer on the court; a multi-sport athlete whose court sense and ability to play any position we need her to will be crucial to our success this year.”
Juniors Presley Biwer and Ashley Gilbert are expected to see a lot of court time this season, according to Jacobson Spiegel. Sophomore MacKenzie Thom didn’t see much playing last season as a freshman but looks to be an impact player for the Eagles this year.
“Her (Thom) dedication and hard work during the offseason has helped her establish herself as a six-rotation starter for us this season.”
Junior Aidyn Messmann — who took a year off the sport — will bring athleticism, court sense and competitiveness to the Jefferson rotation, according to Jacobson Spiegel.
Departing players: The Eagles will have a lot to replace — losing eight seniors. The biggest hole to fill for Jefferson will be replacing the production of Cassidy Spies, who had 89 aces and 342 kills last season and was named a first-team Rock Valley Conference member.
Season thoughts: “This is definitely a rebuilding year for Jefferson volleyball, having graduated so many seniors, but the culture and energy in the gym are the most positive, energetic, and team-centered as it has been in a while,” Jacobson Spiegel said. “The girls are excited to be in the gym, and overall everyone is just grateful we get to play this year. Win or lose, volleyball is providing these girls with the outlet, friendships and fun we all need during these unprecedented times.”
Last season’s recap: Whitewater went 15-20 overall and 3-6 in the Rock Valley Conference standings. The Whippets’ season came to a close in a regional game against Lakeside Lutheran.
Coach’s resume: Kathy Bullis once again is at the helm for Whitewater.
Top returners: The Whippets bring back their lone first-team conference selection from last year’s team in senior Emme Bullis. The Cal Poly State volleyball commit had a team-high 316 kills in 81 sets. Bullis was third on the team with 51 aces.
“Emme has a high volleyball IQ and can play any position,” Kathy Bullis said. “She has a powerful swing and is a positive leader on the team.”
Cora Linos comes back for her senior season as a setter for the Whitewater, a player Bullis described as smart. Sophomore Kindyl Kilar also looks to make an impact in just her second year.
“She’s (Kilar) a powerful hitter in both the front and back row,” Bullis said. “A great defender and serve receiver.”
Departing players: Whitewater graduated just one senior from last year’s squad. Junior Avery Hintz and senior Amanda Tovar are expected to take larger roles this season to help fill lost production.
Season thoughts: “We are a team with a lot of versatility which will enable us to adjust and match up well with whatever our opponents bring,” Bullis said. “We will bring a lot of firepower offensively and from the serving line. We are excited for the opportunity to play this spring and looking forward to start conference play.”
Last season’s recap: The Blackhawks beat rival Milton to claim a WIAA Division 1 regional title, but fell in the sectional semifinals to end their season. Fort Atkinson finished 17-16 overall and third in the Badger South standings with a 5-2 mark.
Coach’s resume: Liz Gnatzig will once again lead the Blackhawks this season as the head coach.
Top returners: Emma Mans — a Canisius College volleyball commit — led Fort Atkinson with 398 kills as a junior and was named to the Badger South’s first team. Junior Callie Krause was an honorable-mention in the Badger South last season.
Departing players: Rylie Steffes added a one-two punch with Mans last season, collecting 314 kills. Steffes — along with former Jefferson athlete Cassidy Spies — now plays volleyball at Viterbo University.
Fort Atkinson will need to find a way to replace Steffes’ 300-plus kills. The Blackhawks also need to fill the void of Jadyn Krause, who was a Badger South-honorable mention last season.
Season outlook: Fort Atkinson brings back one of its top players from its regional-wining team from last season, but will need to fill several key spots to replicate last year’s success.
Last season’s recap: The Blue Jays finished 1-17 overall and lost in their first-round Division 3 regional playoff game to Wisconsin Heights. Cambridge finished 0-10 in the Capitol South standings.
Coach’s resume: Breah Klemp enters her first season coaching Cambridge.
Top returners: The Blue Jays return one senior, outside hitter Summer Hausz — who Klemp called an all-around player. Cambridge also brings back three other varsity players from last season in juniors Taylor Stenkylft, Emma Nottestad and Mayah Holzhueter.
Stenkylft — a setter — has excellent court awareness and confidence in her role, according to Klemp. Nottestad (OH) and Holzhueter (MH) both return as hitters. Klemp said both Holzhueter and Stenklyft are multi-sport athletes who read each other well instinctively.
Departing players: Cambridge replaces nine seniors from last year’s team, with Klemp calling her 2021 squad essentially a brand-new team. Freshman Saveea Freeland looks to find a role as a hitter for the Blue Jays in her first season, bringing athleticism and power to the lineup.
Junior Audrianne Kieler and freshman Mya Lehmann will look to fill-in and develop in to back-row positions.
Season thoughts: “We’re excited to be establishing a new culture for Cambridge volleyball,” Klemp said. “We have a young program, offering us the perfect opportunity to set a strong foundation for success, now and in the future.”
Fort Atkinson/Cambridge (Boys)
Last season’s recap: Fort Atkinson went 8-11 last season, including a 5-2 record in the Big Eight Conference. The Blackhawks finished third in the conference tournament and lost their first match in the WIAA tournament.
Coach’s resume: Mark Hacker will be in his second season with the Fort Atkinson boys volleyball program and his first as the head coach.
Top returners: Fort Atkinson brings back Caden Klingbeil, Travis Sykes and Aidan McDonough.
“Each brings a versatile skill set to the team being able to play all the way around and stepping up in many ways within the rotation,” Hacker said. “They have been more than willing to help the younger group coming in to help with technique and fundamentals. They have been great teammates and leaders within the program.”
Departing players: The Blackhawks will have to replace the loss of seven seniors from last year’s team.
“We have a lot of young talent coming up through the program and I think that it will be a collective effort to step into the roles of the seniors we have graduated,” Hacker said. “We are building back up the program together so everyone will have their impact whether it is elevating their existing skillset by challenging each other in practice or becoming more versatile and finding their own role to help mold the future of the program.”
Season thoughts: “I am just happy we can play,” Hacker said. “With a lot of new faces, there is a great deal of excitement to see other individuals within the program being able to step up and contribute at each level. We want to be able to have versatility within the lineup and work players up to be comfortable to do one to two things. The biggest idea we are trying to convey is the action of rewarding yourself with a good defensive play by getting a point. Play hard, work hard, and reward yourself for hustle plays.”