3 Things to Know: Woodward-Granger volleyball

Sean Cordy
Players come together during Woodward-Granger's win on Tuesday, Aug. 25.

The Hawks had won the last dozen of their matches with South Hardin dating back to 2012. That win streak ended as did the season for Woodward-Granger (12-15) as the Tigers (21-14) won the regional semifinal round 3-0. With the season in the rearview mirror, the Hawks can look back at their path to this point and what route they may take next year.

Tough and shortened road

Playing one state tournament team is tough enough. Between Van Meter, Gilbert and South Hardin, the Hawks took on three teams that are set to play in Cedar Rapids. The Hawks were on the cusp of defeating Van Meter in the regular season finale while the other two were sound losses that prevented Woodward from finishing the season with a winning record.

Not only did the Hawks go up against state competitors, the team also ran into an overall schedule ranked 35th in win percentage. W-G's opponents had a combined record of .515, an uptick by a percent compared to last year.

Thus marked the end of the first time in since before 2010 that the team had more losses than wins. With the shortened season due to covid cancellations, that will always be marked with an asterisk.

Print out new rosters

Woodward-Granger's Emily Trewet at the serving line.

Woodward came into the season with every bit of confidence with a group of experienced seniors. Now the team's roster will get a bit of a refresh as the team parts ways with Faith Keuhl, Elly Polich, Gena Tague, Emily Trewet and Natalie Weaver.

The loss of Polich and Weaver is incalculable. Serving as starters for the past three seasons, the duo was one of the most productive tandems in the conference and topped the team's kills chart the previous two years. Polich ranked third in the WCAC with 3.4 kills per set, while Weaver's 2.3 ranked eighth. Keuhl also made a name for herself as the conference's serve efficiency leader at 97.2 percent.

Natalie Weaver with a kill attempt during a road victory over Earlham on Sept. 22.

Remember the names

Losing a group of seniors is nothing new. The program lost three of its oldest starters in 2019, two in 2018 and three in 2017. Each year, new talent has popped in with success. 

Audrey Simmons sets up the ball during Woodward-Granger's match against Van Meter on Oct. 15.

That already proved true this season as the team found success replacing  Emma Drake with sophomore setter Audrey Simmons, ranked seventh in the conference with four assists per set. By comparison, Drake had six per set as a sophomore and grew into an all-conference talent.

At the net, the Hawks still retain a couple of stalwarts between junior Brayten Ashman and sophomore Grace Deputy who led the team in blocks. Darby Nixon also looks to step into her third year as the starting libero after leading the team in digs the previous two seasons.

Grace Deputy and Brayten Ashman go up for a block during postseason action on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in Woodward.