By ERIC X. VICCARO
Both the Ste. Genevieve and Valle Catholic High School volleyball teams will embark on the 2021 season next Monday.
The Dragons will enjoy the creature comforts of playing in Peggy J. Johnson Gymnasium, squaring off against Jackson.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will have an opening-night road trip to Mineral Area Activities Association foe Potosi.
Ste. Genevieve head coach Carla Basler, coming off a sensational 20-win season with regular-season and conference championship in tow, said the team already is preparing for Jackson.
“Every team on our schedule presents a challenge as we play a tough schedule,” Basler said. “Our first focus is Jackson since they are our first game of the season.
“They bring back several returners, so we are expecting the to have a strong program once again,” Basler continued.
Ste. Genevieve made a pair of minor scheduling changes this year — adding Arcadia Valley in mid-September at Ironton. The Dragons, due to Homecoming, will not participate in the Jackson varsity tournament.
“Scheduling was fairly normal for the year, much less challenging,” Basler noted, regarding the slate in light of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Ste. Genevieve R-II school district athletic director Dr. Jeff Nix chimed in about scheduling in general.
“Scheduling has been the same,” Dr. Nix said. “What was difficult last year was the constant cancellations and rescheduling. Anytime that happens, you have to cancel and reschedule bus times, officials, workers, etc.”
Sometimes this causes events to be rescheduled one or two days later. Dr. Nix said he hopes this won’t be as much of a problem during the 2021 season.
Valle Catholic head coach Nancy Fischer said the Warriors don’t have any new opponents on this year’s schedule. However, they added the Jackson Tournament in early October, replacing a similar tournament in Perryville.
Valle Catholic also will have its own 16-team junior varsity tournament on Sept. 18 in place of the Park Hills Central JV event. The tournament will take place at the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center.
Both Ste. Genevieve and Valle Catholic will participate in the Southeast Missouri Dig For Life Tournament this year. Only the Warriors competed in this event last year.
Fischer said this year’s event field will feature 60 teams.
The Mineral Area Activities Association should be competitive again this year with Fredericktown, North County, Park Hills Central, Ste. Genevieve and Valle Catholic in the mix for the league title.
Valle Catholic split matches with Jackson last season.
Darren Verseman replaces Amy Umfleet as the head coach at St. Vincent.
Saxony Lutheran returns nearly every player from last year’s squad that lost to Valle Catholic in the Class 2 quarterfinal round of the playoffs last year.
The Warriors, coming off a 30-win season, will need to find more offense with outside hitter Riley Siebert graduated — and now a member of the squad at John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ill.
Key returning players are Rachel Blum (libero), Mia Weiler (defensive specialist), Hailey Weibrecht (middle blocker), Ella Bertram (middle blocker), Sam Loida (setter) and Makayla Joggerst (setter). Ade Weiler, Callee Naeger and Macy Wolk also are expected to contribute to the team.
The Dragons need to replace setter Brittney Kreitler, libero Maci Reynolds and middle hitter Marysa Flieg.
The following players are expected to spearhead Ste. Genevieve’s efforts: Arie Taylor (setter) Maya Watts (libero), A.J. Prudent (outside hitter), Dru Koetting (outside hitter), Abby Moore (middle blocker), Tessa Grass (middle blocker) and Alli Byington (defensive specialist).