Cougars anxious to start volleyball season on Saturday

Janet VanLiew is beginning her second stint as volleyball head coach at Trinity Lutheran High School this fall.

She said she is anxious to see how her team performs when it opens the season Saturday morning in the Providence Invitational.

VanLiew coached Trinity the first three years the school had a team, beginning in 2002. They played their home matches at Immanuel Lutheran School. Prior to coaching at Trinity, she was the head coach at Brownstown Central High School for several years.

“I’m excited about coaching kids that I’ve been training for several years through different club programs and even when I coached at Immanuel, so I’m excited just to take what we’ve been doing training-wise and putting it together on a very competitive high school team,” she said.

This fall, she has 29 players, and Trinity will have freshman, junior varsity and varsity schedules. The seniors on the roster are Drew Hubbard, Laina Klinge, Allison Ward and Kiley Zabel.

VanLiew is expecting a strong defensive team.

“We have the attack and the offense. We just need to be as well-rounded as we need to be and still have the defense and the ball control that we need,” she said.

She feels like there are several girls who can handle the blocking and attacking duties.

“Carson Bowling and Madison Keith are very strong. They’ll be in the middle with us. We have a new player, Bailey Bonde, who is with us,” she said.

“Drew Hubbard and Ava Blomenberg are back on the outside, so we have everybody but Bailey Tabeling coming back,” she said. “Bailey is a huge hole to fill, but we have some who have worked really hard during club at the and in the offseason. She provided a lot for the team, and we’re going to have to find ways to replace all those things that she provided.”

Addison Darlage, a junior, is beginning her third season as the Cougars’ setter, and Laura Roeder returns as the team’s libero.

“Laura is one of the best in the state,” VanLiew said. “She’s fun to watch.

“We’ve spent a lot of time working on technique and reading balls and just being smarter on defense,” and she said Kiley Zabel and Maddie Adams are excellent at covering the back row.

VanLiew said experience is definitely one of the team’s strengths.

“They play together here. … I think every one of them played club,” she said. “Our communication is a strength. We’ve just got to pick up our defense and our ball control. I think our offense will be there, but you can’t have that without ball control and serve response. So once we get those established, I think we’ll be a tough team to beat.

“We just want to eliminate our mistakes. That is kind of the crazy thing about volleyball. You have to score points, but you have to keep the other team from scoring by eliminating our mistakes. The strategy of the game is a little different than people understand.”

VanLiew said it will be important to start out strong.

“We want to get our offense going, and everything else is going to feed off that,” she said. “We have a tough schedule. Any opening we had, we filled with a 4A school. The cool thing is we had other teams that wanted to play us, but our schedule is full.”

Prior to going to Providence, the Cougars will host Brownstown Central for a scrimmage on Thursday beginning at 6 p.m.

Trinity’s home opener is Monday against Center Grove.