Middleton's girls spikers aiming high

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Franco Marcos, Middleton's girls volleyball coach, has high hopes for the Cardinals this season./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Franco Marcos wasn’t shy.

He rarely is.

But Middleton girls volleyball coach feels better about the 2017 Cardinals than he has about a team in quite some time. And he doesn’t care who knows it.

So when Marcos was discussing the upcoming season, he didn't hide from expectations. Instead, he simply raised them.

“We are the team to beat,” Marcos said when asked about the Big Eight Conference.

Middleton hasn’t been the team to beat for a few years now. The Cardinals have been a solid, consistent program, but they also haven’t been to a WIAA Division 1 state tournament since 2009.

Marcos believes that drought could come to an end this fall.

“Oh my God, has it been that long?” Marcos said of Middleton’s state tournament drought. “How time flies! It is very realistic and I know that the girls are also hungry for the trip to state.”

Why the optimism?

For starters, Middleton returns eight players from a year ago. Five of those played in at least 87% of the sets.

The Cardinals also picked up a pair of transfers that are expected to become immediate contributors.

Middleton might have its most talented roster in years and could be a force in the league and state-wide.

“They understand that it’s going to take hard work and some sacrifices,” Marcos said. “The mindset is that of continuous growth and improvement.”

Junior outside hitter Lily Welti is the Cardinals’ top player. A year ago, Welti was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference and honorable mention all state.
Welti had 459 of Middleton’s 1,011 team kills (45.4%), was second on the team in digs (500), assists (503) and aces (61).

Junior middle blocker Hannah Flottmeyer led Middleton in blocks last year (152) and was third in kills. Senior Jennifer McGinnis moves from outside hitter to middle blocker. A year ago, McGinnis was second on the team in kills (216), third in digs, fourth in aces and had a .280 hitting percentage.

Junior right side hitter Keller Frinzl played in just the front row last year. This season, Frinzl will take on a greater role.

“She has developed a strong serve and is expected to play all around this year,” Marcos said.

Senior defensive specialist/libero Jordan Gundrum is the Cardinals’ best server and led the team with 63 aces.

“We scored the most points when she is serving,” Marcos said.

Senior setter Ashley Harris, junior libero/defensive specialist Reagan Thomas and senior outside hitter Cami Spellman are returnees that could all take on expanded roles.

Middleton should also benefit from a pair of standout transfers.

Senior setter Kayla Underwood transferred from Madison Memorial and should provide an immediate boost to the lineup.

“She is a crafty setter and gives us a variety of options on offense,” Marcos said of Underwood. “She is a strong server, a good defender and could out-hustle anyone.”

Sophomore outside hitter/setter Evie Coleman transferred from Fort Atkinson and could be a key contributor right away.

“She is a very talented athlete that will help the team in many ways,” Marcos said.

Junior defensive specialist/libero Olivia Farin, junior right side hitter Lauren Hendricks and junior setter Rachel Roberts could all factor in, as well.

Defending conference champion Sun Prairie will be a force once again. Verona should be greatly improved, while Janesville Craig is always a contender.

As for Middleton?

“We will be contending for the Big Eight Championship,” Marcos said. “I really can’t go any lower.”

No one would ever expect him too.

Now, the Cardinals will try living up to those lofty expectations.

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