2015 was a superb season for the Lutheran St. Charles girls volleyball team, as the Cougars brought home the Class 2 state championship.
That was then. Now it is on to a new season in 2016, and the Cougars look primed, and ready not to merely defend their state crown, but also go back to state and win the big prize for the second straight year.
The Cougars won their first title in 2004 and after winning the school’s second championship last fall, Cougars coach Sasa Vaslijevic believes the club has the personnel to repeat as back to back champions in Class 2.
“Our goal is to aim for that and I think it’s an achievable goal and it’s really unique, so we’re going after it,” Vasiljevic said.
Four starters are back for Lutheran, and seven players that saw significant court time also return for the Cougars, who went 29-6-1 in 2015.
Senior outside hitter Tori Vogt, senior libero Jordyn Klein, junior setter Alli Gueck, and sophomore middle hitter Ashley Ernstmeyer will form the nucleus of the Cougars lineup.
Klein will be expected to lead the way when it comes to scoring. The senior, who has verbally committed to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, paced the club a season ago with 345 kills.
Vogt, and senior luli Demien, also will be counted on for offensive support as well.
Despite the loss of 6-foot-2 power hitter Savannah Kluesner, who has moved on to Miami University in Ohio to play basketball, the Cougars should still be plenty effective in scoring with a decidedly more diverse offense.
“It’s a fresh team because year Savannah was a big part of our team in the middle because she was 6-2 and athletic,” Vasiljevic. “So, this year we will be more athletic, faster and we will be more diverse and balanced and I think the players look forward to that.”
Newcomers expected to make key contributions for the Cougars include sophomore outside hitter Emily Skerston, who saw some time in the rotation as a freshman last season.
Lutheran St. Charles will open up the season on Aug. 19 at home against Tolton Catholic.
The Cougars are eager, and ready to show opposing teams they are not worried about being the hunted instead of the hunters this season.
“I think it’s a good goal and if we make it back to the state tournament, our goal will be to show off our level of play and competition.” ” We’re excited and the girls are ready to go and can’t wait to get started.”