Anyone watching the Perry volleyball team this season will be sure to note plenty of new faces, both on the court and on the sidelines.
Veronica Roshek will step into the role held for many years by Carol VanKirk, who opted to step down and take the freshman coaching job this season. Roshek, who teaches special education in Perry, is no stranger to coaching duties, as she was previously an assistant to VanKirk and this summer served as varsity head coach for the Urbandale softball team. She will be assisted by Staci Prellwitz, who is an adjunct instructor at DMACC.
"I am looking forward to seeing how quickly we can handle the challenges facing us," Roshek said. "With losing five seniors we will have to make several adjustments, but we have some girls back with varsity experience and that will help us."
Lost to graduation were four of the six starters, with 82 percent of both total kills and ace serves having departed. Replacing both — especially the kills — will be critical for a team that does not boast a great deal of size.
The Jayettes were 20-18 overall last season and finished 4-4 in the always-tough Raccoon River Conference. Improving or even matching that mark will depend upon how well a new cast of characters can meld into a cohesive unit.
One key component that returns to the lineup is junior setter Maggie Lowe. She was third in the RRC last year with 588 assists and served 261-of-289 with 16 aces. Lowe also contributed 175 digs and made 43 blocks at the net while adding 23 kills.
"Obviously Maggie will be very important for us," Roshek said. "She has two years of experience already and can help some of the younger girls as they begin getting used to playing at the varsity level. She knows the things we want to do on offense as well as defense and will be a leader on the floor."
Amy Marckres will resume her spot as an outside hitter. She had 105 kills and 41 blocks while making 71 digs. A junior, Marckres was one of the leading servers, finishing 168-of-183 with 11 aces.
Also returning with varsity experience is senior Julie Diw. She tallied 169 digs last season and was 46-of-52 with seven aces behind the line.
"Having Amy and Julie on the outside will help us and give us some options," Roshek stated. "Claire Marburger is back out after not playing as a sophomore and we will probably start her as a middle hitter."
Diw could play a variety of roles, as could fellow senior Tori Miner.
"Tori could be our libero but that has not been decided yet," Roshek said. "We have a lot of people competing for that spot. While we do not have a lot of size, we do have a lot of versatile players that could fill any number of roles and that is a good problem to have."
As with any new coach and any team facing several changes the answers awaiting many of the questions facing the squad remain uncertain after only a short period of practices.
"I know that Victoria Hegstrom, Ellie Nielsen, Mary Wilhelmi and Katelyn Whelchel are going to help us, too, but I just do not know where yet," Roshek said. "All of them and maybe a few others will all have their chances to earn playing time.
"Up to this point we have mainly been working on just the basics and improving our skills," she continued. "We have 45 girls out, which is great. I would say that the attitude so far is overwhelmingly positive and we are becoming more focused every day."
Junior Kristin Sohn could earn time at the net and would give Perry some height up front while others who will wear a varisty jersey could see time as the season progresses.
Patience, Roshek stressed, will be key as it will likely require a few weeks for things to settle into shape for the Jayettes.
"We do not have any superstar players that are just going to dominate, so it is going to take a total team effort from us this year," Roshek said. "It is going to require the efforts of a bunch of girls to make us successful and there will be plenty of chances, especially early on (in the season) for someone to step up and take a spot on the floor."