With 2013-14 being the swan song for the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference, the Sturgis varsity volleyball team is built for a strong final charge towards a league championship after losing just one player from last season.
Trojans head coach Von Metzger, who enters his 24th season at the helm, had an incredibly young team in 2012, and this year’s crew is based around an accomplished junior class, led by middle hitter Rachel Anderson and setter Kelsey Metzger. Classmates Jamie Lioy (outside hitter) and Hollie Myers (outsider hitter), as well as middle hitter Nicolette Nelson (sophomore) and libero Dominique Beach (senior), fill out a program capable of hunting down a SMAC East Division title.
Newcomers Hannah Marchand, a freshman setter, and Paige Robinson, a sophomore middle hitter, will also contribute for the Trojans this fall.
Anderson was a first-team all-conference and all-region selection before landing on the all-state third team in Class B. Metzger was honored with a second-team All-SMAC nod, as well as being awarded all-region and all-state honorable mention.
“Rachel Anderson led the team in kills and blocks last year and is considered one of the top juniors in the state,” Von Metzger said. “This year’s team will be looking for her to continue her dominance at the middle hitter position. Kelsey Metzger will be key in keeping the offense running at a high level.”
The Trojans finished 33-21 overall last year and 4-3 in the SMAC East (fourth) before falling to Three Rivers in district play. After starting five sophomores and a freshman in 2012, Sturgis is in position to reap something even more positive results. Metzger, with a career record of 689-446 prior to the start of this year, has raised the bar.
“This year’s team has enormous potential and should be considered a strong contender in Class B,” he said. “We have beefed up the schedule and are looking to test ourselves consistently against the best in the state.
“I believe the SMAC East is wide open this year. I expect Lakeview and Marshall to be strong, but you can never count out past powers Gull Lake and Coldwater. Portage Central should be the team to beat in the West Division.”
Coach: Von Metzger (24th year)
2012 recap: A young team posted a winning record and kept a district quarterfinal match with Three Rivers tight before fizzling out in back-to-back 25-20 losses to end the year.
Key players in 2013: Rachel Anderson (Jr., MH), Kelsey Metzger (Jr., S), Jamie Lioy (Jr., OH), Hollie Myers (Jr., OH), Nicolette Nelson (So., MH), Dominique Beach (Sr., L).