VOLLEYBALL: New coach, familiar feel
By BRANDON HURLEY
A fresh face at the top could mean big things for a bustling Paton-Churdan squad this fall. The Rockets’ volleyball team is itching for a turnaround, and new head coach Tressa Rasmussen is poised to lead the way.
The 2015 Greene County graduate is relatively inexperienced in coaching terms, though she possesses a passion for the intricate sport of volleyball and sports as a whole, a characteristic that is pivotal in guiding a group of young athletes.
“I felt like I knew a lot about a lot of sports activities and decided to share my knowledge in coaching,” Rasmussen said.
Naturally, the small town feel of the P-C program didn’t push the recent Iowa State University graduate away from the limelight, it only drew her closer to her first head coaching position.
“I love the small school atmosphere and how close the girls are,” she said.
Rasmussen has quite the tall task in front of her in year one. She’s won’t be stepping into a storied program with dozens of trophies lining the walls, though she is grabbing the reins of a unit more than comfortable playing alongside each other.
“I’m looking forward to having some success on the court and seeing these girls become great young women on and off the court as well,” Rasmussen said.
The Rockets have not produced a winning season in more than a decade, but Rasmussen hopes a veteran squad can reverse that notion. P-C is led by one of the Rolling Valley Conference’s top returning hitters in Danielle Hoyle. The senior recorded 242 kills (3rd in the RVC) and 43 blocks (9th) last fall and returns to pilot an experienced unit. The Rockets will also rely on returning veterans Tessa Steimel (86 kills), Carmyn Paup (52 kills) and Chloe Berns (34 aces) for a unit poised to make a breakthrough. The front line should be one of P-C’s strong suits, Rasmussen said, though she’s already witnessed significant progress near the baseline.
“We’re pretty good at the net and we’ve also been working a lot in the back row and digging off of hits,” Rasmussen said.
Hoyle provides an imposing presence not many teams in the Rolling Valley Conference or in Class 1A as a whole can matchup with. That gives the Rockets an extra dose of confidence when they step on the court, Rasmussen said.
“We are going to utilize her in the back and front row as best as we can,” the coach said. “She’s very athletic for how tall she is. Normally, you get a tall girl but they’re maybe not as coordinated, but (Danielle) definitely is the most coordinated I’ve seen.”
While P-C will roll out quite the intimidating presence on the court, it’s how the Rockets return the ball that will make or break the season. Girls like Berns, Steimel and Paup provide an athletic aspect to an experienced core.
“Sometimes, we struggle a little bit with our serve-receive, but I’ve seen a lot of progress in practice,” Rasmussen said.
P-C’s veteran leadership will be the driving force early in the season, the coach said. They must strike a well-balanced cohesiveness on and off the court.
“The key to a successful season is playing as one,” Rasmussen said. “There are six individuals on the court, but volleyball is a very team-orientated sport, so we are trying to play our best.”
The 2020 version of the Rolling Valley Conference has the look and feel of one of the stronger leagues in all of 1A. Seven of the RVC’s top 10 individual hitters return from a year ago while seven of the league’s top 10 servers are back as well. Defensively, Woodbine should be a force yet again (352 blocks in 2019), with its two, league-leading blockers back in action. As a whole, eight of the top defensive specialists will grace the high school court yet again.
A majority of 2019 conference champion Glidden-Ralston’s stalwart of attackers, who powered the Wildcats to 607 kills last fall (second in the RVC) and a 9-0 league record are back, as are Coon Rapids-Bayard and their monster hitters (582 kills). The Crusaders (23-10 in 2019) entered the 2020 season ranked ninth in Class 1A thanks to the return of their top two hitters (Alaya Betts and Alexa Culbertson), who both placed in the top 10 as juniors while G-R’s Gretchen Wallace led the league in kills (261) as a junior.
Paton-Churdan ranked eighth in the league in total kills a year ago (430) and fourth in service aces with 166. The Rockets were last in blocks (52).
P-C opens the 2020 season Saturday, Sept. 5 with the Coon Rapids-Bayard tournament beginning at 9 a.m. in Coon Rapids. The Rockets home opener is slated for Thursday, Sept. 10 against Ar-We-Va.
PC Volleyball Schedule
- Home games in bold
6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10 - vs. Ar-We-Va
5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14 - at Orient-Macksburg
6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15 - vs. West Harrison
6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17 - at Coon Rapids-Bayard
8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 - at Carroll (tournament)
6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22 - at Glidden-Ralston
6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29 - vs. CAM
6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 - at Boyer Valley
5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5 at Ogden
6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6 vs. Exira-EHK
5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 at Eagle Grove
9:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 - Conference Tournament at Woodbine