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Comet VB team has something to prove

Comet VB team has something to prove
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City sophomore Rachel Chambers hits the ball over the net during a drill at Tuesday’s practice in Comet Gym.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — The Charles City volleyball team has 10 returning seniors. Some of them have chips on their shoulders.

“We’re out to prove the community wrong,” said senior Lexi Vance about doubts that the Comets will be able to fill some frontline holes due to graduation.

“We lost a lot of talent, but we’ve got a lot coming back.”

The Comets just started practicing this week, but they’ve been hitting the ball all summer.

“We just had our camp last week, and we also attended team camps at Wartburg College and in Denver,” Comet head coach Madalyn Fank said. “We have a lot of spots to fill, and we’ve had some good competition already in practice.

“There is a lot of energy in the gym.”

Some of that energy may be carrying over from the softball season as the Comets have more than a handful of players who are making that transition fresh off taking third at the State Softball Championships.

Senior Alex Litterer is one of them.

“It was an exciting experience,” said Litterer, who scored the winning run in the extra-inning third-place game against West Delaware. “I hope to build on that going into this season. I love softball, but I also love volleyball.”

Fank said that the love and/or commitment to the sport is likely the reason why she is graced with so many seniors.

“We can only have 15 on varsity and we can only rotate so many into the game,” Fank said. “So a lot of our returning seniors haven’t played that much on varsity. But they’ve stayed with the program.

“Usually, when a junior hasn’t played much on varsity, they decide volleyball isn’t their sport and don’t go out their senior year.”

Priscilla Arenas is hoping to break into the varsity lineup her senior year.

“This is my last year … my last high school sport,” Arenas said. “Unless you count dance.”

Among the returners who put in substantial time on varsity last season are Vance, junior middle hitter Dani Stock, sophomore hitter Rachel Chambers, sophomore libero Toni Maloy, and senior setter Jen Martin.

“I think we’re going to do real well this year,” Martin said.

After losing some frontline size and talent from last season, Fank says her team will have to be “scrappy” and play good defense.

“We also have to be more aggressive on serves,” she said. “We were behind in the (plus-minus) ace ratio.”

A former Comet player herself, this will be Fank’s third season as Charles City head coach.

“I was always a hitter in high school and college, but as a coach I’ve been trying to learn more what it’s like to play other positions to get a better understanding,” she said.