During the offseason the Red Wing volleyball team went through some big changes. A few of the team's key players -- Macy Koester, Dani Deming, Hannah Rodgers and Katie Sonju -- graduated, leaving open spots in the front row.
Two of the returning seniors will be stepping up in place of those who graduated; Elle Thorson and Meg Grove.
"Meg Grove had a great offseason," said Red Wing head coach Lindsay Woychek. "Her leadership has grown immensely. Her speed and strength has improved drastically from last season. She was mostly a bench player last year, but will start as an outside hitter this year.
"Elle Thorson will be moving to right outside. She'll be an important part of our offense"
Along with Thorson, Abi Deming will also be moving from middle to outside hitter.
Woychek said she plans to use others on the team in multiple positions this season.
"We've increased our flexibility at positions," Woychek said. "We've got more versatility in where we put girls and who can play those positions."
The Wingers will also feature depth. Fourteen girls are on the varsity, with two freshman and four sophomores joining the varsity squad.
"We're starting with a rather large group," Woychek said. "Some will play junior varsity to start the night, then come up to varsity and help us off the bench."
Some of the players who will be pulling double duty include Savannah Bryan, Madison Castner, Elle Brandt and Kennedy Knopp. Woychek isn't worried about the skill of the depth players saying they'll all supply the team with much needed depth.
All four could rotate into a starting role and some already have in practice. Woychek said Castner will start in the middle up front.
One of the other changes less visible than the roster sheet is the team's blocking scheme.
"We're changing to shuffle block rather than a swing block," Woychek said. "I just felt like we weren't quick enough to get to the pins in blocking last year. So we're just trying to speed up our middles to be more successful at least in getting a touch on the ball."
Through all the roster shuffling and added depth, the team would like to avoid a mid-season losing streak. Last season the Wingers won five games in a 30 day stretch. The team fell in four straight games twice and three games once in that stretch.
While the Wingers did win its first section game last year, Woychek said the team wants more and have shown they've improved enough to go further.
"We kind of sagged off in the middle of he season and so we'd like to finish middle of the conference," Woychek said. "We were disappointed with a four seed last year, so improving on that would another goal we have."
Any worries Woychek had of a young squad not quite up to varsity speed were alleviated on the first day of fall practices.
"Even Day 1 last week was better than we saw most of last season," Woychek said. "I don't think that a sub-section championship is out of the realm for us."