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Victoria East volleyball vets taking on new roles

Aug. 16, 2011 at 3:16 a.m.

Morgan Leinemann kills the ball against Cuero on Monday.

Morgan Leinemann was one of the youngest players for Victoria East last seaon. Her talent earned her Newcomer of the Year honors in district.

This year, the junior finds herself as one of the team's veterans and one of its most experienced players.

"Last year, I really looked up to the seniors for support," she said. "This year, I'm trying to help out the younger players. I'm not a senior, but I'm still trying to help everyone else."

With it has come a new role for the junior.

In losing eight seniors from last year's squad, the Titans feel they've gained in having to focus on defense and the little things to get by.

"We had some defense last year, but we had mostly hitters," Leinemann said. "Now, mainly out team is mostly hitters. We have to work hard at it because we don't have the height or the hitting."

The Titans controlled the ball and let Cuero make the mistakes during Monday's home opener, a 25-7, 25-10, 25-11 victory over the Lady Gobblers (1-2).

Victoria East (2-4) heads to New Braunfels for the Fraulein Fest tournament over the weekend.

The team is well aware of what they have to do to get ready this year. They have four seniors on the team, many of them in new roles. Hannah Jaschke, a hitter last year, is setting up plays. Leinemann played on the outside, and now is in the middle. She spent much of the time hitting, but now is also setting up others as well.

"Last year, we had setters,"she said. "I got a lot of sets because I was on the outside. Now that I'm on the inside, it's not as much."

And Katie Williams, a back row specialist last year, is now taking shifts up front as a hitter. She said the team is building toward a successful district season, knowing full well that the first month and a half of games is all in preparation for that point.

"Preseason is for our mistakes," she said. "We're hoping to have fewer mistakes as we go along and when we reach district. Hopefully, by then, we'll have it together."

She, too, is learning what it takes to be the example for a young Titans team that features several juniors called up from JV last year, and two freshmen who made the squad after tryouts.

"Last year, I looked up to a lot of the seniors," Williams said. "It was up to them to pull us up. This year, it's up to me to pull the others up. It's a lot more difficult than I thought, but I think we are up to the task."

Titans coach Jamye Pauley said the Titans strength is on the defensive side of the ball, and it showed against the Lady Gobblers. The team focused on coordinating its bumps and sets to get the ball back each time, although not always at the hardest speed.

The speed will come with time and practice, the coach said.

"We know we are a bit smaller, we know that coming in," Pauley said. "We have to focus on ball control and have to make great passes off of our serve-receive. We have to dig well, because if we don't, we won't give our hitters a good chance against people that are probably bigger than us."

"Every day, we are doing some kind of serve-receive drill, some kind of defensive drill."

NOTES: Cuero received a scare during the third game when outside hitter Abby Sheppard went down with an ankle injury. Coach Rebecca Fryer said it was a sprain and that she is expected to miss a couple of weeks. She finished the match with seven digs and an ace. ... Jaschke paced the Titans with 20 assists. Pauley said she had spent her first two years, both at Memorial, as a setter, before moving to be a hitter last year. She's now back as the team's primary setter. ... Leinemann led all players with 20 11 kills, and was one of two players with four aces. Bianca Trevino also had four aces, and Williams had five. ... Cuero's Tiffani Shellenbarger had 1 kill, 1 block, 5 assists, 4 digs and 1 ace.

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