The best thing that will happen for the Princeton volleyball team this season came in the offseason.
That’s when the Tigresses learned they will be dropping back to Class 2A after a run of two years in 3A. PHS coach Andy Puck said the team’s goals don’t change, but they become more attainable with the drop to 2A.
“We always expect to win post season hardware, no matter the class. However, the expectation this year dropping to 2A is definitely exciting but challenging,” he said. “There are good 2A teams in our area. Postseason is never ever given, it is always earned.
“We will have fun playing a tough schedule and hope to be playing our best volleyball at season’s end.”
The Tigresses have a good mixture of six returning seniors to go with seven juniors and one sophomore, who will be contending for playing time.
Of the six seniors, five saw considerable playing time on last year’s 18-14 squad, a group headed by outside hitter Anna Murray. She received Second Team All-BCR and TRAC East All-Conference honors, leading the Tigresses with 206 points and 37 aces to go along with 191 kills.
Puck believes this will be the year the talented Murray puts its all together, now three years removed from her freshman ACL surgery.
“Anna is finally trusting her repaired knee. She is officially braceless,” Puck said. “It has been a pleasure watching her get back to her freshman vertical and playing with confidence. We look for Anna to lead this team as a starter and as a captain.”
Murray will be joined on the outside by classmate Cydney Kelly and juniors Abby Scaggs, who saw varsity time last year, and Paige Smith.
Middle hitters will be senior Sara Grieff and junior Olivia Vergamini.
Senior Katelyn Ross returns as an opposite/right side hitter, joined by promising newcomer Haylee Hammerich, a junior transfer from Hawaii. Hammerich is the daughter of former Hall standout Michelle Hochstatter, a senior star for the Lady Devils’ 1996 state squad.
Puck said sophomore call-up Sophia Vergamini will compete for an opposite hitter and middle hitter position.
Junior Corinne Peterson returns at libero, where she headed up the Tigresses’ defense as a sophomore. She will be joined in the back row by senior Lydia Smallwood and junior Vicki Tieman.
The offense will go through the hands of senior Kate Vigars and junior Kendra Cain at setter.
Puck said the team’s strength will “mostly be our ball control and a faster tempo offense.”
The PHS staff had a shake-up on the underclassmen level with the retirement of longtime sophomore coach Eric Tinley. Josie Dober steps up from the freshmen ranks to sophomores with Katlin Petersen taking over at the freshman level.
Puck has also added varsity assistant Heather Raffelson while PHS senior Mikayla Wilhelm has taken on the role as student assistant coach this year.
• Tiger tales: After working out in front a good crowd for Monday’s Meet the Tigresses Night, PHS opened its season Tuesday at L-P. See Saturday’s BCR for results. PHS travels to Prophetstown to kick off Three Rivers East play Thursday.
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