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Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 14:24

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

“I walked into a talented team. I’m very excited to coach these girls,” he said.

Luedtke coached boys’ 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.

“I have a passion for it,” said Luedtke, who will be coaching girls’ 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 Hawks’ 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.

“I have a feeling we’re going to be pretty good in the middle,” Luedtke said.

He said the team’s blockers are strong, especially lefty Lauren Stippich.

“She’s tall, and she’s got really long arms. Great for blocking,” Luedtke said.

Three players are battling for the libero position, where Luedtke said he’ll go with the hot hand.

“I think we’re going to be a very good defensive team. It’s all going to come down to ball control,” he said.

Luedtke is already impressed with his team’s camaraderie.

“I think it’s going to be just a group of girls that get along very well,” he said. “I think they’re going to be just as good as some of the guys I’ve coached.”

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 girls’ 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 team’s most valuable player as a sophomore. She received honorable mention in all-conference voting.

“I expect there to be lots of hits, lots of kills from her,” Miller said.

Hilton will be taking passes from senior Caity Tydrick, last year’s setter, who led the team with 241 assists and 49 aces. She also earned all-conference honorable mention.

The Pirates’ 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.

“Across the board, the hitters are looking very strong,” said Miller.

Senior Alex Stammer returns as the team’s libero.

With all their veteran talent, experience won’t be a problem for the Pirates. However, competition in the conference will be.

Half of the North Shore’s eight teams are in Division 1, with the other half in Division 2. Port is among the smallest Division 2 schools.

“The North Shore Conference will always be our biggest challenge,” 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.

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