Volleyball preview: Loads of experience raises expectations at NLS Wildcats

Aug. 26—NEW LONDON — With an abundance of returning starters, the

NLS Wildcats

volleyball have plenty to be excited about for the 2023 season.

New London-Spicer, which was 16-12 in 2022, returns Ava Carlson, Kendra Gerhardson, Dakota Rich, Grace Truscinski, Emma Madison and Ayla Caskey to its roster.

Carlson, a 5-foot-9 junior middle blocker, led the team in hitting efficiency (.370) and was second in total blocks (49) in 2022. She was an All-Wright County Conference pick.

Gerhardson, a 5-11 senior right-side hitter/setter, has recorded 1,395 set assists and will be the Wildcats' go-to hitter from the right side.

Rich, a junior at 5-6, will make the switch to the setting position this season. She previously was utilized as a defensive specialist.

Truscinski, a 5-7 junior libero, led the Wildcats with 273 digs and was second in serve aces with 26 in 2022.

Madison, a junior right-side hitter listed at 5-7, had 91 kills in her sophomore season. She will be utilized on the right side and possibly as an outside hitter on the left.

Caskey, a 5-7 sophomore outside hitter, broke into NLS' starting lineup midway through her freshman year. She was a part of the Kandi Elite 14-1s volleyball team that earned the program its first national title in June 2022."I am excited to see what this year's team can do," NLS head coach Tina Peterson said. "They have a lot of potential."

The Wildcats have a few key losses from a season ago, the biggest being middle blocker Ellary Peterson.

Ellary Peterson was a West Central Tribune All-Area Volleyball Honorable Mention, an All-Wright County Conference selection, the Wildcats MVP and captain in 2022. She led NLS in kills (222), total blocks (100) and serve percentage (96.3).

With the rise of Piper Barney, a 5-11 junior middle blocker, Tina Peterson hopes Barney can fill Ellary Peterson's void in blocks as well as fill in on the right side when necessary.

"Piper has worked hard in the off-season and I have seen major improvement," Tina Peterson said. "I am also excited to see a few other girls — who had starting roles on our JV last season and have worked over the summer — fight for valuable playing time at the varsity level this year."

Overall, Tina Peterson is optimistic about this year's group.

"With a little extra hard work and good attitudes, I have no doubt they can be a winning team that can be successful deep into the playoffs," Tina Peterson said.

Aug. 25 at Albany tournament

Sept. 5 at BBE

Sept. 7 at Albany

Sept. 9 at Lakeview tournament

Sept. 12 at Eden Valley-Watkins

Sept. 14 at HLWW

Sept. 18 vs. Morris/CA

Sept. 19 vs. ACGC

Sept. 21 vs. Watertown-Mayer

Sept. 25 at Paynesville

Sept. 26 at Glencoe-Silver Lake

Sept. 28 vs. Annandale

Oct. 3 vs. Willmar

Oct. 5 at Dassel-Cokato

Oct. 10 vs. Litchfield

Oct. 12 at Rockford

Oct. 17 vs. CMCS