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Tigresses venture down the Three Rivers

PRINCETON — The Princeton Tigresses will take a ride down the Three Rivers Athletic Conference for the 2013 volleyball season.

They will be the largest school (545 enrollment) in the revamped, 15-team league, settling into a new conference home having played in a three-team NCIC league.

“It will give us a good versatility in playing teams throughout the area and it will be nice to have actually have a conference home,” coach Andy Puck said.

Their first test will come Tuesday in a crossover contest at Fulton.

“I hope we’re ready, that first match you never know. but the kids I put on the floor have a lot of experience. We’ll give Fulton a rock.”

That experience consists of seven seniors who were members of last year’s squad that went 25-12, reaching the 3A regional semifinals. It all starts with setter Michelle Kelly, the reigning BCR Player of the Year.

“Michelle Kelly returning is really big. She gives kids good chances to succeed and is a dynamite defensive player, too. An all-around phenomenal player,” Puck said.

Also back for the Tigresses are outside hitter Ashley Farraher, middle blockers Alicia Poss and Becca Hult, defensive specialists Rachel Frank and Hailey Michael with Mollie Bates at libero.

The senior class includes Kelly Schmidt, who did not make the team as a junior, whom Puck praised for “getting back up after you get knocked down.”

Junior Abby Jaques, one of the most athletic players Puck said he’s had, got a taste of the varsity level as a sophomore and promises to become even more of a weapon. Puck said while she’s capable of playing pretty much every where, “her identity this week,” is as an outside hitter.

Junior Taylor Clark is another versatile player, capable of playing four positions, who Puck said may set some from the front row. Other junior prospects are outside sitters Colby Schertz and Sierra Storm, defense specialist Keyenna Altizer and setter Brianna Barajas with sophomore Hailey Schultz pulled up to the varsity as an outside hitter.

“We’re about four or five weeks from getting our juniors and our sophomore from really being explosive. As soon as they get a little more experience and some good solid varsity practices, I think sky’s the limit for some of those younger kids,” Puck said.

The lineup Puck throws out Tuesday could be “completely different than I throw out Thursday night. It could be completely different the whole season and most likely will be different at the end of the season. We can go into different matches and pick and choose to what works better with the opponent we are playing.”

About his team, Puck said, “it’s a great group of kids. They really enjoy being around each other, they push each other. They’re a lot of fun. We’re going to have a fun season, We really area. We’re going to have a fun, competitive season.

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