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New roles for volleyball team

first_imgSame place, new faces.Sheila Shaw and Aubrey Meierotto were still at the UW Field House for Wisconsin’s spring match against UW-Milwaukee Wednesday, but only in attendance as the two are soon-to-be graduates.Replacing them in the starting lineup was redshirt freshman Katherine Dykstra at middle blocker and Amy Bladow at right-side hitter.But Dykstra and Bladow weren’t the only ones playing in a new position.Sophomore Audra Jeffers — an opposite hitter last season in her All-Big Ten freshman year — started in the back row and hit on the left side for most of the night.”We don’t know if that’s where she’ll finish,” UW head coach Pete Waite said of Jeffers. “She may go back to the right like we had last fall, but by playing on the left has really expanded her game and it challenges her to grow as a player.”Also, Katie Lorenzen played the whole match at setter as Jackie Simpson was still nursing her broken wrist she injured earlier this spring in Hawaii.However, the Badgers’ lineup is far from set for next fall as evident by the rotation of starters from game to game against UW-Milwaukee.Whereas Dykstra started at middle blocker in game one, Maya Carroll started in game two and Bladow moved over to the position in game three with Morgan Salow playing right-side hitter.Bladow didn’t mind the move one bit — she’s just happy to be playing again after being a regular starter in 2003, but sitting on the bench for most of the time since then.”I can play wherever,” Bladow said. “Anywhere but DS. “I’m just excited to be playing.”For what it’s worth, Dykstra was back in the starting lineup for game four, but at opposite hitter with Taylor Reineke playing middle blocker.Whether or not Dykstra will start in the fall has yet to be determined as she still has a lot to work on following her redshirt season.”In the middle she still needs to be pretty aggressive,” Waite said. “When you see her on the outside on the right side and the left, she gets really loud and really fired up so we need to have her transfer that to the middle hitting position. As we all know, she jumps out of the gym and we just got to get her arm swing where it’s really concise all the time.”In addition to middle blocker and outside hitter, Wisconsin took a look at Faye McCormack at defensive specialist in game three, giving regular Megan Mills a rest for the first half of the third game and went with a defensive lineup in the fifth game of rally scoring to 15, starting both Mills and Amanda Berkley in the back row.McCormack and Salow saw some time in the fifth game as well.Yet maybe the biggest adjustment Wisconsin saw from last year was in outside hitter Maria Carlini.She didn’t change positions, but it’s clear that Carlini is going to have to step up as the replacement for Shaw and Meierotto in being the team’s emotional leader and go-to hitter as she led the team with 54 swings.”Maria’s been a really good all-around player and consistent for three years now,” Bladow said. “Everybody feels really comfortable with her being our go-to girl. She hits high percentages, she blocks really well, she passes well, and she’s one of the best all-around players we have on our team.”Bladow, too, has stepped up as a leader as she heads into her senior year next season.”Bladow is really becoming a leader on the court,” Waite said. “Emotionally we’ve seen it coming out of her on the sidelines for a couple of years and now she’s bringing it out on the court and we really like that.”All the lineup changes caused Wisconsin to be a little shaky at times as much of the team is still getting comfortable playing alongside each other.”Any time you have a new group of people out there, it takes time to get used to each other,” Waite said. “Missing Aubrey and Sheila, who have been four year starters and very good blockers, makes a difference out there.”Regardless of who ends up starting, Bladow is confident the team can adjust to any lineup and improve upon the last two seasons’ Elite Eight finishes.”It’s really great because no matter who we have in there, we do a really nice job of gelling as a team and just playing off of everybody’s strength,” Bladow said.last_img

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