Spartans get ready to serve opponents
After an 11-22 finish to their 2022 campaign, the Exira-EHK volleyball team is working hard and preparing for a new season. Their first match will be a scrimmage Aug. 19 in Atlantic, where they will be one of 15 schools competing.
“We are very excited,” said Spartans Head Coach Derek Reischauer. “We had some girls participate in some offseason workouts and we took seven girls to a Central Team Camp in Pella. We did some good things there, which was very encouraging for us. We have had six practices now this week and the girls are super excited and very fun to work with.”
The Spartans have a small team of nine players, with Senior Hannah Nelson the most recent Spartan to join the squad.
“We are super young and therefore many of them don't really know what to expect yet,” Reischauer said. “Our goals right now are more about staying focused, having great attitudes, and staying together as teammates.”
The Spartans lost four seniors from last season in Shay Burmeister, Quinn Grubbs, Makenzie Riley and McKenna Larson, but have some new faces joining the team including Riley Miller and Taryn Petersen.
During the 2022 season, Burmeister led the team in kills with 153 followed by Riley with 144. Grubbs had the most assists with 268 and Riley had 199. Grubbs also had the highest serve efficiency rate at 91.5%.
“You can't replace girls like them,” Reischauer added. “Those three, along with McKenna, are phenomenal young ladies that gave the program a lot of production over their careers and you just don't replace that. This years group is their own group, with their own team chemistry and personality. It is their turn now to grow and build their own legacies in their own way.”
The Spartans will also be without Harlee Fahn who is entering her junior season. Fahn last year had 36 kills and a serve efficiency rate of 93.1%, the highest on the team.
“We will surely miss her but we have girls that are going to perform very well,” Reischauer said. “We don't have a set lineup or set roles yet. We have at least five girls that can play all the front row positions, and they will probably play all of those positions throughout the season depending on the situation and matchups.”
Reischauer is entering his second season as head coach of the Spartans. He talked about learning a lot about the program along with his coaching style.
“I think just being in the community for a year now and getting a feel for the community expectations from me as a coach has helped,” he said. “I've always been a pretty intense coach and sometimes that has come across negatively to some people, so I have worked on just being more positive and instructional while still being excited and competitive. The community has supported the program greatly over the offseason with some new equipment and gear so we are very appreciative of them.”
Coming into a new season, there are things Reischauer feels the team needs to work on.
“We really need to cut down on unforced errors,” Reischauer added. “Just way too many of them last year. That was one of the things I commended the girls on after the Central Team Camp was they greatly reduced the unforced errors, particularly the hitting errors. You can't score when you're hitting the ball into the net or to the wall, but you have a chance if you keep the ball in play and at least get the other team out of system. That is one of our focuses this year."