Skiers volleyball starts fresh | AspenTimes.com

Skiers volleyball starts fresh

Nate Peterson

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

ASPEN Jen Schrock pictured this happening, just not this soon. Aspen High’s new head volleyball coach thought she was going to be leading the Skiers junior varsity this fall after working with freshmen and sophomores during the club season.Then Matt Bergdahl, the Skiers coach who recruited Schrock as an assistant, announced just two weeks before the start of fall practices that he had accepted a new teaching job in the valley and was stepping away from the team. A former high school standout and starter at Division I Eastern Michigan, Schrock said she knows from experience that you never turn down a shot at varsity when it comes calling.”I’m very excited,” said the native of Senton, Mich. “I wanted this eventually, hopefully, and it just happened sooner than I thought. It’s a huge learning experience. I coached a varsity [high school] team before, but I co-coached. I’ve never done it on my own, so this is brand new.”What’s also brand new is Aspen’s lineup, which Schrock is still sorting out as the Skiers prepare for theirseason-opening invitational this weekend.

All six senior starters from last year’s 16-7 team are gone, including 3A Western Slope first teamers Megan Raczak and Kyla Walter and honorable mentions Robin Landis and Brittany Zanin. The only holdovers who saw considerable playing time last season are junior left-side hitter Elissa Walter, senior right-side hitter Sydney Adams and junior setter Kylie Westerlind.Westerlind said Schrock has done a good job of getting everyone on the same page entering this season, which wasn’t an easy task considering the number of varsity newcomers.”The hard thing about last year is that we were totally split up,” Westerlind said. “There’s half JV and half returning varsity. It’s kind of hard, but we all seem to have good attitudes and we all seem to be getting along pretty good so far.”Schrock was a right-side hitter and middle blocker in high school and college, and, as one who would know, said the Skiers’ strength is at the front of the net.Walter and Adams are both big swingers and should form a potent attack with junior middle Katy Evans, who started on JV last season. Junior right-side hitter Rio Crandall has also been impressive in practice and should see playing time, Schrock said.

Where the Skiers need to improve is on defense and in the passing game. It’s an area that isn’t Schrock’s expertise, and the coach admits that she’ll be doing a lot of learning herself while teaching. “We have girls that can do it, but I want more girls who can be solid back there,” she said. “I played a little bit of back row, but not a whole lot, so that’s where I want my girls and me to improve as well.”The player Schrock expects to be a leader in the back is Olivia Davis, a versatile junior who will be used as a defensive specialist. Davis said Schrock made a strong first impression, and that the team has been behind its new coach from its opening practice.”She’s offered a lot,” Davis said. “She’s had a lot of experience herself, and she’s a young girl. All of us are. We can relate to her a lot. She’s also pretty organized. She knows what she’s doing, and she has a lot of drills. She set her rules, which is good, because she did it from the beginning.”While the lineup may be new, the new coach doesn’t plan to overhaul the strategies that Bergdahl left in place. The only notable difference will be a few defensive wrinkles, Schrock said.

“I think in the past they basically did just one defense, and I know a couple others that I want to show them in case we run into different things,” the coach said.”So far, it’s looking pretty good,” Davis added. “We’ve played together since seventh and eighth grade, most of us have. I think we have a lot of skill together. Who knows, I think that we’ll have a good attitude and hopefully it will work out this year.” Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com