Grafton charts new course with new coach; Port counts on veteran talent
The Grafton High School volleyball team has a new coach this season who considers himself fortunate to inherit a talented group of players.
Jarrod Luedtke, a 1987 Grafton graduate, takes over for Peggy Haischer, who retired from coaching.BEING COUNTED ON to lead the Port Washington vollebyall team are (clockwise from lower left) Caity Tydrick, Kelsey Lilly, Abby Schueller, Brynna Prellwitz, Brittany Swartout, Mikayla Hilton, Jessie Brooks and Alex Stammer. Photo by Sam Arendt
â€śI walked into a talented team. Iâ€™m very excited to coach these girls,â€ť he said.
Luedtke coached boysâ€™ varsity volleyball at Brookfield East from 1992 to 2002, as well as the Ozaukee Wave team for a couple of seasons. He left coaching for several years due to family commitments before returning to the volleyball sideline.
â€śI have a passion for it,â€ť said Luedtke, who will be coaching girlsâ€™ volleyball for the first time.
The Grafton girls are coming off a 7-16 season that included a 2-4 match record in North Shore Conference play. The Black Hawks advanced to the second round of the WIAA playoffs before losing to Slinger.
Grafton will run a 5-1 offense with junior Jenna Brotz as a first-year setter. She replaces all-conference honorable mention Emily Albrecht, who graduated.
Returning senior Kimmi Schacht will be one of the Hawksâ€™ main outside hitters, and five others will vie for playing time. They will fill a void left by second-team all-conference hitter Kaily Rathke, who graduated.
Sophomore Amanda Hunt and juniors Sammy Gosewehr and Jamie Ziolkowski will patrol the middle. All are about 6 feet tall.
â€śI have a feeling weâ€™re going to be pretty good in the middle,â€ť Luedtke said.
He said the teamâ€™s blockers are strong, especially lefty Lauren Stippich.
â€śSheâ€™s tall, and sheâ€™s got really long arms. Great for blocking,â€ť Luedtke said.
Three players are battling for the libero position, where Luedtke said heâ€™ll go with the hot hand.
â€śI think weâ€™re going to be a very good defensive team. Itâ€™s all going to come down to ball control,â€ť he said.
Luedtke is already impressed with his teamâ€™s camaraderie.
â€śI think itâ€™s going to be just a group of girls that get along very well,â€ť he said. â€śI think theyâ€™re going to be just as good as some of the guys Iâ€™ve coached.â€ť
This week, Grafton opened the season at the East Troy Invitational on Tuesday.
On Aug. 30, the Hawks will host Ozaukee in a nonconference dual meet at 6:30 p.m.
Pirates take aim at improvement
The Port Washington girlsâ€™ volleyball team has its setter and kills leader back from last season, along with several other letterwinners.
Coach Deb Miller said she hopes that talent and experience translate into a improved showing in the North Shore Conference, where the Pirates went 0-7 last season.
Outside hitter Mikayla Hilton, a junior, led Port with 143 kills and was named the teamâ€™s most valuable player as a sophomore. She received honorable mention in all-conference voting.
â€śI expect there to be lots of hits, lots of kills from her,â€ť Miller said.
Hilton will be taking passes from senior Caity Tydrick, last yearâ€™s setter, who led the team with 241 assists and 49 aces. She also earned all-conference honorable mention.
The Piratesâ€™ other setter will again be senior Kelsey Lilly, who doubles as a right-side hitter.
Besides Hilton and Lilly, senior outside hitter Jessie Brooks will be an offensive weapon for Port. The trio will be counted on to replace Cassie Klapoetke, an all-league honorable-mention player who graduated.
In the middle, seniors Abbey Schueller and Brynna Prellwitz will get the bulk of the playing time.
â€śAcross the board, the hitters are looking very strong,â€ť said Miller.
Senior Alex Stammer returns as the teamâ€™s libero.
With all their veteran talent, experience wonâ€™t be a problem for the Pirates. However, competition in the conference will be.
Half of the North Shoreâ€™s eight teams are in Division 1, with the other half in Division 2. Port is among the smallest Division 2 schools.
â€śThe North Shore Conference will always be our biggest challenge,â€ť Miller said.
This week, the Pirates were scheduled to open the season at the Bay View Invitational on Wednesday and play in the Sheboygan South Invitational on Thursday.
Port will begin conference play Sept. 1 with a 6:30 p.m. home match against Milwaukee Lutheran.