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Boys volleyball preview: Battle within SLC could decide a run to state
Boys volleyball preview

Boys volleyball preview: Battle within SLC could decide a run to state

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WIAA Sectional Volleyball Championship

St. Catherine's / Racine Lutheran's Evan Schuster hits the ball past the block of Kenosha Indian Trail's Travis Shore in the first game of the WIAA sectional final volleyball match Thursday evening, Nov. 1, 2018, at Indian Trail High School in Kenosha.

In Kara Avery’s first season as coach, the combined St. Catherine’s/Racine Lutheran boys volleyball team shared the Southern Lakes Conference championship and got to a WIAA sectional final.

This season could be just as good for the Angels. The squad has plenty of returning players. And the Angels will need the experience to compete with Burlington, which shared the conference title with the Angels last season.

The Demons, who made it to the sectional semifinals last season, last weekend made a run at the annual Racine Invitational. Burlington finished tied for third after losing to state-ranked Waukesha West in the semifinals.

Here’s a look at the Racine County boys teams:

Southeast Conference

Case Eagles

COACH: Christopher Falbo, second season.

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 18-14 overall, 4-3 SEC; lost 3-2 to Horlick in a WIAA regional final.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Kevin Barz (M), Joe Christofferson (S), Isaiah Wright (RS). Junior — Quinn O’Brien (L).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Eagles have plenty of options this year as depth is a strength. Senior Isaiah Wright looks strong on the right side and will be supported nicely by fellow seniors Jack Behrendt, Will Pucci and Kevin Barz at the net. Junior libero Quinn O’Brien has the confidence of head coach Christopher Falbo to take command of the back row. Freshman Cameron Werner has shown a lot of potential. Falbo said.

“I have seen big gains from many of my players in the offseason,” Falbo said. “I credit this to them playing club volleyball and their overall commitment to both the game and our program at Case.”

Horlick Rebels

COACH: Dana Marcinkus, third season.

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 18-14-2 overall, 4-3 SEC; lost 3-1 against Kenosha Indian Trail in WIAA sectional semifinals.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Matt Barrientez (S/OH), Frank Christensen (DS), A.J. Smithers (MH), Michael Tempesta (OH). Juniors — Joe Prudhom (L), Connor Singer (OH).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Rebels never played an actual home game last season. This season they will play at the newly renovated field house with a team primed for conference success.

“(We’re) looking to be a tough competitor in the Southeast Conference,” Horlick head coach Dana Marcinkus said. “The team is fundamentally sound and clicks well on the court, utilizing each players strengths to the team’s advantage.”

Barrientez was an All-County first team selection last season.

Park Panthers

COACH: Pete Leslie, 22nd Season.

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 5-16, 1-6 SEC; lost 3-0 to Kenosha Bradford in a WIAA regional final.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Xavier Griffin (OH), Tyler Huck (OH). Sophomore —Jamier Pratt (S).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Panthers could be in for a few rough patches this year. The small program is lacking in experience.

“Our sophomore class will be leaned on heavily,” Park coach Pete Leslie said. “But that will also be a benefit for the future.”

Southern Lakes Conference

Burlington Demons

COACH: Michael Jones, fourth season.

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 25-5-3, 7-1 SLC, lost 3-1 to Catholic Memorial in the WIAA sectional semifinals.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Daniel Drew (DS), Tyler Duesing (OH), Wyatt Kurth (S/OH), Sam Lois (RS), Spencer Nelson (DS), David Paul (S). Juniors — Chase Ketterhagen (L), Ben Rummler (MB).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Demons have their sights set on winning a third consecutive conference title. And a team record could well fall along the way: Setter David Paul, a four-year starter and an All-County first team pick last season, is on the verge of setting the school record for assists with 2,025. The record belongs to Zach Gesteland with 2,758 assists from 2009-12.

Duesing was an All-County second-team selection last season.

St. Catherine’s/Racine Lutheran Angels

COACH: Kara Avery, second season.

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 30-4 overall, 7-1 SLC, lost 3-0 to Kenosha Indian Trail in a WIAA sectional final.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Zach Kaisler (S), Tye Ojala (OH), Jared Sandkuhler (OH/MH), Evan Schuster (OH). Junior — Kris Banse (DS).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The Angels were one win shy of a state tournament berth last year. Seniors Tye Ojala, Jared Sandkuhler and Evan Schuster will play big roles in whether or not a repeat of last year’s run can be duplicated. Newcomers Dazerien Hicks and Grant May, both juniors, will look to get playing time quickly.

“We want to be just as competitive as we were last year,” Avery said. “If we can get our team to click just right, we’ll be in good shape this year.”

Schuster, who was the All-County track athlete of the year last spring, was a second team selection in volleyball last fall. Sandkuhler and Ojala were honorable mention selections.

Union Grove Broncos

COACH: Jamie Anderson, third season.

LAST YEAR’S RECORDS: 4-22 overall, 0-7 SLC; lost 3-0 to Kenosha Indian Trail in a WIAA regional final.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Anthony Behringer (RS), Kyle Koenig (OH), Collin Long (M), Samuel Rampulla (RS). Juniors — Quinn Donovan (L), Dominic Rampulla (OH/S).

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Senior leadership will shoulder the load offensively this year for the Broncos. Anthony Behringer, Samuel Rampulla and Collin Long can provide most of the offense.

“I believe the team has a strong group of players with the work ethic and athletic ability to do great things this season,” Anderson said.

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