PRINCETON — The prospects for the Princeton Tigresses volleyball season became a whole better when the IHSA announced this summer PHS had dropped back into Class 2A after spending the past two seasons in 3A. It was like Christmas in June.
“Especially in this area. In 3A you’re looking at L-P and Morris bounced us last year. You definitely go to play your best, not that a 2A regional around here is super easy either,” head coach Andy Puck said.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up. We’re going to be on that bubble (between 2 and 3A). You have to accept where we’re at. Every year’s going to be a battle no matter where we’re at, 3A or 2A.”
On the floor, PHS returns five seniors with one returner from the junior class to go with four newcomers from the junior class, one sophomore and one freshman.
Senior Brianna Barajas and sophomore Sarah Murray will see time at setter. Senior Abby Jaques and junior Tieg Sisler have established themselves in the middle with junior Hailey Schultz and freshman Anna Murray hitting from the outside. Senior Colby Schertz and junior captain Madison Menzel will swing from the right side as opposites.
Puck said senior Taylor Clark is “all things universal,” capable to step in at outside, middle or right side as needed.
The backrow defense will be led by senior captain Keyenna Altizer at libero along with returning captain Sierra Storm, who Puck said “really understands where I’m coming from and understands my philosophies.” They will be joined by juniors Madi Cain and Alisa Holmbeck.
He said the competition has been strong in practice from Day 1 with girls pushing one another for positions.
“They’re one of the hardest working groups that I’ve ever had and they’re all about competition,” Puck said. “I have No. 2s pushing No. 1s and No. 3s pushing No. 1s. ... Some of these 2s, if you will, and our 3s are very hungry, and we have some kids on the sophomores, that also could see time with us. They’re ready to work and it’s been fun to watch.”
Puck said it’s going to be a tough start for the Tigresses with opening matches with L-P, Wethersfield and Erie, the defending co-champion in the Three Rivers North.
“I will know a lot and our kids will know a lot about ourselves after those first three,” he said. “We’re going to win some games and we’re going to lose some games, that’s all there is to it. My goal with these kids to keep them competitive and hungry and hopefully do some damage come postseason.”
Tiger tales: PHS went 1-2 in regional matches in 3A over the past two years, defeating Sandwich in its 2012 opener. ... PHS alum and former Tigress Josie Gustafson joins the PHS staff as freshmen coach, succeeding Emily (Ellberg) Cook. Gustafson is a second-year teacher at PHS.
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