Sami Martell feels as though she has a leg up from her first year of coaching the Prescott volleyball team.

“It went well for my first season,” Martell said, recalling the 2018 volleyball season. “Coming in and learning the names of 50 girls in a matter of three days was a lot, so coming into this season, it’s nice to have known the girls and known their abilities.

“I felt like we improved a ton throughout the season, showing a lot of growth by the end. But my goal this year is to capitalize on that and make that growth happen sooner.”

The Cardinals finished 10-14 and fifth in the conference under first-year head coach Martell last season, but after a year of getting to know her players better on the volleyball court and softball field along with her head coach responsibilities, Martell has a good grasp on what her program needs to do to take it to the next level.

“I think I learned a lot about organizing practices and that we’re being consistent at every team level and that all the girls have the same expectations,” Martell said. “This year I feel like I’ll be able to see more because I know the ropes more.”

Plus, she’ll have an extra set of eyes to share her duties with.

The Prescott School District hired Geoff Snyder over the summer as a middle school science teacher and as a co-head volleyball coach. Snyder coached in Plum City and Spring Valley the past two seasons before becoming a Cardinal.

Martell and Snyder don’t have all the details on how they’ll share their roles worked out, but they’re hoping their chemistry from student teaching transfers throughout their team — especially at the net.

When asked what she felt was the one obstacle the Cardinals could never overcome last season, Martell responded with, “I think our hitting was good, but it wasn’t excelled.

“That’s the obstacle we’re coming over this year — making sure our hitting is top-notch and that we’re just being more aggressive at the net.”

Martell hopes added chemistry and consistency will allow her front-row players to gain confidence at the net, which is why the Cardinals will be running a 5-1 offense this season. Last year, the Cardinals ran a 6-2 with setters Allie Murphy and Savannah Murphy, but now the Cardinal hitters will only need to focus on getting accustomed to Savannah’s sets.

“I think it will help us this year because there will be more consistency,” Martell said. “If we can train our hitters to get used to Savannah, I think we’ll have more consistency.”

Martell already saw her team’s consistency build up at the Menomonie quad on Tuesday, Aug. 27, where her team dropped a close first match against Barron but finished the day defeating Menomonie and Glenwood City.

“At the quad we saw improvements,” Martell said. “They were able to get into some consistency after getting the first game nerves out, which was really nice to see.”

Prescott co-captain Ashley Rieken will be one of the varsity returners responsible for making all Cardinal players feel included this season. (File photo)
Prescott co-captain Ashley Rieken will be one of the varsity returners responsible for making all Cardinal players feel included this season. (File photo)

The Cardinals return four varsity starters who’ll be responsible for making sure all players feel included and as if they belong on the Prescott volleyball team. If they succeed at this early on, Martell believes the minute details will work themselves out sooner than later.

The Cardinals will continue their season on Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Baldwin-Woodville quad at 4:30 p.m.