The Pelican Rapids volleyball team had their best overall (19-7) record and Heart O' Lakes Conference (13-3) record in over a decade in 2017 with seventeen of their nineteen wins coming in 3-0 sweeps of their opponent. The Vikings lost a pair of three year starters and three other players who saw a lot of varsity court time to graduation, however, they also return a solid core for the 2018 season.
"We had a great senior class that will be greatly missed," acknowledged Head Coach Heidi Isaman, now in her eighth year. "Three-year starters Jessica Weinrich (Middle Hitter) and Taylor Berndt (Outside Hitter) will be greatly missed as Jessica was our kill and blocking leader and Taylor as our power outside plus one of our defensive leaders. Taylor is playing at M State in Fergus Falls. Outside hitter Grace Johnson added a lot of offense for us, as did right side hitter Morgan Berg. Rachel Gottenborg was a defensive specialist that played a major role in our success last year as well."
Returning for the Vikings are 3-year starting setter Sarah Thompson, 4-year starter Kaylie Isaman, 2-year starter Adrianna Torres, senior Grace Peterson and junior Ryley Paulson.
"Sarah will bring her leadership and experience to the court," said Coach Isaman. "She has great vision for the court and will need to run our offense. Kaylie will play a major role again this year. She was our libero and is our top serve receiver who will need to lead our defense. Her leadership, communication and experience will be big assets to the team. Adrianna brings strength, competitiveness and leadership to the court and will be a major offensive leader and may play a larger role on the defensive end as well. Grace will see more court time on the defensive end this year and Ryley will be more active on the offensive end."
Junior Riley Berg, sophomore Greta Tollefson, junior Janea Flemming and sophomnore Anna Stephenson will also be in the varsity mix.
"Riley is an all-around player who could get significant minutes this season," noted Coach Isaman. "Greta saw a little varsity time last year but she is strong and competitive and could really help us as a middle blocker and hitter. Anna is extremely athletic and can play all the way around. I look for her to see significant time on the court. Janea showed great improvement on the JV last year and could also really help us on the offensive end."
Isaman will be assisted by Marie Cupkie (JV) and Amanda Belz (B Squad). She sees Barnesville as the team to beat in the conference with DGF and Perham always competing for the HOL title. She also feels that Menahga, Sebeka and Underwood will all be in contention in Section 6A.
"We graduated five major role players and our newcomers don't have a lot of varsity experience," concluded Isaman. "We are not as deep on the defensive end so more girls will have to play both front and back row which will be a challenge. Finding our right combination of lineups might be a challenge right away and finding our flow in that lineup."