Front: Savannah Fischer; middle, from left, Megan Paulda, Shannon Farrell and Rachel Bridges; back, from left, Rachel Cauley, Jordan Nolan and Jada Green.
With six players returning who saw regular playing time last season, the Alton Redbirds are looking for some net gains in 2014.
Stacey Ferguson is entering her sixth season at the helm of the Redbirds and after coming off the first losing season of her career at AHS (16-18-1), she thinks things should be better this fall.
“We do have quite a few starting varsity players that were starters last year and I have a couple who have played since their freshman and sophomore years, so that’s always pretty promising to have that experience on the court,” Ferguson said. “It seems like the last couple years we haven’t had a whole lot of experience, so it takes some time to get things going.”
Alton should have some solid contributions from outside hitters Megan Paulda, 5-foot-8, and Jada Green, 5-11. There will also be help from middle hitters Rachel Cauley, 5-10, and Savannah Fisher, 5-7, just a sophomore, as well as 5-9 Kailin Haug on the right side.
Ferguson looks for big things from four-year contributor Jordan Nolan, who will be back as the setter for the third consecutive season.
“I’m looking forward to the group I have on varsity,” Ferguson said. “We have strong outside hitters. Megan Paulda is a senior and she had a great season last year and I look forward to her having another great season. Jada Green is really coming along; she’s a junior and an outside as well. I have some big expectations for her.
“Our setter is Jordan Nolan and we run a 5-1 with Jordan. She’s played varsity since her freshman year and started setting her sophomore year. She’s broken and continued to break our school records for assists. We also have Rachel Cauley in the middle and she’s solid. We have some solid players that have played together before, so I’m hoping the chemistry shows on the court the first match.”
The obstacle for the Redbirds will be the grueling Southwestern Conference, where they have struggled. They were just 1-6 in the league a year ago.
“(Edwardsville, O’Fallon, Belleville West) are usually our toughest competitors and Belleville East is usually tough,” Ferguson said. “We know going into those matches that we’re going to have a run for our money. They are very fundamental, very skilled and very experienced teams.”
Part of Alton’s issues in the league are, to put it simply, being vertically challenged at the net. Green is the tallest member of the team at 5-11.
“The height thing, I don’t know how to fix that one,” Ferguson said, chuckling. “I work here, so I check these halls and it’s not walking around. If there were height walking around, I would have it.”
The Redbirds open the season in the Roxana Tournament at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. Dupo.
2014 ALTON REDBIRD VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 26, 5:30 p.m. at Roxana Tournament
Aug. 27, 5:45 p.m. Metro East Lutheran
Aug. 30, 8:30 a.m. at Roxana Tournament
Sept. 2, 7:15 p.m. at EA-WR
Sept. 5, 4 p.m. Alton Redbird Classic
Sept. 6, 9 a.m. Alton Redbird Classic
Sept. 10, 5:45 p.m. at Belleville East*
Sept. 12, 4 p.m. Alton Invitational
Sept. 13, 9 a.m. Alton Invitational
Sept. 15, 7 p.m. Cahokia
Sept. 18, 5:45 p.m. East St. Louis*
Sept. 22, 5:45 p.m. Southwestern
Sept. 23, 5:45 p.m. Collinsville*
Sept. 26, 4 p.m. at Ritenour Tournament
Sept. 27, 9 a.m. at Ritenour Tournament
Sept. 30, 5:45 p.m. Riverview Gardens
Oct. 2, 6:15 p.m. Carrollton
Oct. 7, 5:45 p.m. at Granite City*
Oct. 9, 5:45 p.m. at Mater Dei
Oct. 14, 5:45 p.m. O'Fallon*
Oct. 16, 5:45 p.m. at Edwardsville*
Oct. 23, 5:45 p.m. Belleville West*
*denotes conference games
Name HT POS
Jordan Nolan 5-7 S
Megan Paulda 5-8 OH
Rachel Cauley 5-10 MH
Rachel Bridges 5-3 DS
Shannon Farrell 5-5 DS
Jada Green 5-11 OH
Kailin Haug 5-9 RS
Olivia Cauley 5-6 DS
Savannah Fisher 5-7 MH