VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW: Young Saline Volleyball Team Hopes to Hit on All Cylinders
The Saline varsity volleyball team is young. And they’re tall. And they can swing.
That combination should make for an interesting season.
Last year, Saline was second to Skyline in the SEC Red. Skyline also ended the Hornets’ season in the second round of districts after Saline bested Dexter. It was the second straight season the Hornets were eliminated by their SEC Red rivals from Skyline.
But the Hornets graduated eight girls from that team - including the four-year varsity Blaney sisters.
This year, Saline’s lineup includes just four seniors. Julia Munday (DS/RH), Mackenzie Roehner (DS/RH), Elizabeth Vance (RH/OH) and Megan O’Neil (DS).
“We have a young team this year with only four seniors. We have a lot of growth in front of us. We also have a ton of potential,” said head coach Emileen Palazzolo.
The Saline varsity team is pictured. In front are coach Brianna Woods, Olivia Behen, Megan O’Neill, Maria Laurio, Cazzi Smith, Julia Monday, Laney Burns, Lexi Seller and manager Kaelyn Easton. In back are coach Jacquelyn Easton, Mackenzie Roehner, Anna Hesse, Molly Rigg, Mallory Bohl, Catherine Flaharty, Elizabeth Ann Ford, Elizabeth Vance and head coach Emileen Palazzolo.
Palazzolo points to 6’4 sophomore Mallory Bohl, who looks like she’s still growing. And then there’s 6’2 junior Molly Rigg. Other 6-footers include sophomore Catherine Flaharty and Beth Ann Ford.
“This is one of the tallest teams we’ve had in awhile. It’s also one of the biggest hitting and blocking teams we’ve had,” Palazzolo said. “So I think if we can grow defensively and grow together as a team, we’ll have a successful season.”
The offense runs through junior setter Laney Burns, who saw a lot of action last year.
Bohl will be an integral part of the team.
“She’s a key for us. As a middle blocker, she’s setting the block and she’s an integral part of the offense,” Palazzolo said. “If she can be consistent with blocking, lining up with her pin hitters, and communication with her defense and setter, she’s going to be a force.”
When they aren’t setting to Bohl, Saline has options on the outside too.
“We have a variety of pin hitters that can go outside and right side. You’ll see a lot of Liz Vance and Anna Hesse there,” Palazzolo said.
Sophomore Catherine Flaharty and freshman Marie Laurio are also options.
“Catherine Flaharty has come out of pre-season very strong with a lot of potential She’s very coachable, takes feedback well, and, with her height and strength, I think she’s going to be one of our huge hitters for us,” Palazzolo said.
Laurio also turned heads during tryouts.
“It’s always challenging to be brought up to varsity as a freshman, but the way she plays, she makes us feel like we need her on the court. She is a super athletic player that takes feedback and is going to grow and become a big part of our team,” Palazzolo said.
Oliva Behen, a sophomore, is going to play a lot of defensive specialist. Cazzie Smith and Meg O’Neil also will see a lot of back row work. Julia Munday, when she returns from injury, will see a lot of defensive duty.
“We have a variety of players who can play multiple positions, which gives us the freedom to change lineups, depending on who we’re playing and switch things around,” Palazzolo said.
At times, younger teams can struggle with the challenges of a tough varsity schedule. But there are also positives.
“When you have this many young players, you can hae a fresh start and run things differently,” Palazzolo said.
The Hornets, who spent last summer practicing on sand volleyball pits because indoor sports were prohibited due to COVID-19, have enjoyed the return to normalcy.
“It’s super nice to be able to prepare and have tryouts indoors. We were able to have practices and scrimmages. I feel much more prepared as a coach to start the season this year,” Palazzolo said. “We’re super excited to get started.”
The Hornets only have four home contests on the schedule. They’re home to Monroe Sept. 9, to Pioneer Sept. 21, for a quad Oct. 2, and to Huron Oct. 12.
Below are rosters for the varsity, JV and freshman teams, as well as pictures of the JV and and freshman teams.
|First Name||Last Name||Grade||H||Position|
JUNIOR VARSITY VOLLEYBALL
The 2021 Saline junior varsity volleyball team is pictured. In the front row are Hadley Griffin, Rylee Bero, Allie Smith, Ashley Malinczak, Evalyn Ledy and Kathlene Fredericks. In the back row are Addison Proudlock, Mallory McFarlane, Sidney White, Addison Ashley, Clara Cherry, Kaitlyn Marria, Elizabeth Miller and coach Chelsea Cicero.
|First Name||Last Name||Grade||#||Position|
The 2021 Saline freshman volleyball team is pictured. In front are Samantha O’Keefe, Brette Stetson, Octavia Marciszewski, Kate O’Toole, Giana Groeb, Emma Wiedmayer and Laurel Sibthorp. In the back row are Anika Sadek, Kordula Sadek, Shyla Still, Ava Stripp, Gracie Rogers, Jayden Jasper, Anya Torres and coach Rebekah Gere.
FRESHMAN VOLLEYBALL ROSTER
|First Name||Last Name||Grade||#|