Front, from left, Alina Viteri, Fonda Clark and Andrea Valencia; back, from left, Betsy Hagnauer, Alyssa Bridick and Lindsay LeVault.
GRANITE CITY – Improvement is the name of the game for the Granite City High volleyball team.
Take it from Ginger Harrison, the Warriors’ second-year head coach. She sees good things coming for the program. Granite City went 6-18 last season and was 0-7 in the Southwestern Conference.
“We’re a young team, but I see a lot of positive things going on at practice,” said Harrison, 40, a Granite City High graduate. “We have some extremely intelligent girls who are willing to learn everything about volleyball.”
The Warriors may find out in a hurry if they are quick learners. Granite City debuts with a home match Sept. 4 against Highland. The Warriors compete in the Alton Invitational on Sept. 5. They will play host to the Granite Fall Classic on Sept. 20.
“We have a lot of matches early in the season,” Harrison said. “I think that in the first 15 days of the season, we have 14 matches. That’ll give us time to build and make adjustments.”
And Harrison is expecting the Warriors to adapt in a timely manner. They graduated five seniors from last year’s team, but they aren’t undergoing an extensive rebuilding process.
“Those five seniors played together for a while and we had something special going with them,” Harrison said. “It was a nice mix.”
This season, Granite City is counting on seven seniors to lead the way. The Warriors expect to showcase a 12-player varsity roster that includes two juniors, a pair of sophomores and one freshman.
“We’re learning to play together and bond as a team,” Harrison said.
Alina Viteri, a 5-foot-6 libero; Betsy Hagnauer, a 5-6 outside hitter; Lindsay LeVault, a 5-5 setter; and Melanine Joyce, a 5-6 outside hitter; are the Warriors’ key returnees.
Viteri and Joyce are serving as co-captains, even though Joyce is still rehabbing from a knee injury. Harrison figures Joyce could return in a month or so.
Alyssa Bridick, a 5-6 outside hitter; Fonda Clark, a 5-8 outside hitter; and Andrea Valencia, a 5-6 outside hitter; are three more seniors Harrison will lean on for depth and leadership.
Haley Jones, a 5-7 junior setter; Ashley Armbruster, a 5-10 junior middle hitter; Skylar Dippel, a 5-10 sophomore middle hitter; Cierra Yon, a 5-7 sophomore outside hitter; and Morgan Tanksley, a 5-11 freshman middle hitter, likely will round out the squad.
“We’ll be quick, even if we aren’t tall,” Harrison said. “We’re trying to teach the players that power hitting isn’t always the answer to having success. If we are scrappy, it will get us far.”
She added, “We’re excited about this season because we have a group of players that are extremely coachable and they soak up everything like a sponge. It’s such a smart group.”
Harrison senses it will be a fight to the finish in the rugged SWC. Teams play one another once in conference competition.
She points to Edwardsville and O’Fallon as the top teams in the league. Yet Harrison foresees the Warriors causing some commotion.
“I hope we can surprise some people,” she said.
GRANITE CITY WARRIORS ROSTER
Name HT POS
Alina Viteri 5-6 Libero
Betsy Hagnauer 5-6 Outside Hitter
Lindsay LeVault 5-5 Setter
Alyssa Bridick 5-6 Outside Hitter
Melanie Joyce 5-6 Outside Hitter
Fonda Clark 5-8 Outside Hitter
Andrea Valencia 5-6 Outside Hitter
Haley Jones 5-7 Setter
Ashley Armbruster 5-10 Middle Hitter
Skylar Dippel 5-10 Middle Hitter
Cierra Yon 5-7 Outside Hitter
Morgan Tanksley 5-11 Middle Hitter
Sept. 4, 6:15 p.m. vs. Highland
Sept. 5, 4 p.m. at Alton Redbird Classic
Sept. 6, 9 a.m. at Alton Redbird Classic
Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. at Civic Memorial
Sept. 10, 6:30 p.m. at Metro East Lutheran
Sept. 11, 6 p.m. at Collinsville*
Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m. at Waterloo Gibault
Sept. 18, 6 p.m. vs. Edwardsville*
Sept. 20, 8 a.m. vs. Granite City Fall Classic
Sept. 24, 6 p.m. vs. O’Fallon*
Sept. 25, 6 p.m. vs. Belleville West*
Sept. 29, 6 p.m. vs. Triad
Oct. 1, 6:15 p.m. vs. Cahokia
Oct. 2, 6 p.m. at East St. Louis*
Oct. 7, 6 p.m. vs. Alton*
Oct. 8, 6 p.m. at Dupo
Oct. 9, 6 p.m. at St. Louis Christian Academy
Oct. 13, 6 p.m. at North County Tech
Oct. 16, 6 p.m. vs. Belleville East*
Oct. 17, TBA at Autumn Classic Tournament
Oct. 18, TBA at Autumn Classic Tournament
Oct. 20, 6:30 p.m. at Madison
*denotes Southwestern Conference game