First-year volleyball coaches looking to make their mark

Posted Online: Sept. 01, 2014, 5:58 pm
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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com
During her prep days at Morrison, Julia Deter had the chance to learn the coaching trade first-hand in her own household.

Having played volleyball as well as softball under the tutelage of her mother, Tammy, who is still the Fillies' head softball coach, Julia continued to learn when she made the transition to coaching. She spent her first two years on her mom's staff before Tammy stepped aside as the volleyball coach following the 2008 campaign.

Now, as she takes the coaching reins from her mother's successor, Jennifer Medenblik, the 2001 Morrison graduate looks to build the program back to the heights it enjoyed more than 15 years ago, when the 1998 Fillies won 23 matches and a Class A regional title, the last postseason hardware for Morrison volleyball.

"You could say it (coaching) is in my blood, and I wanted to give it a try," said Julia Deter, who had spent the previous seven seasons as the Fillies' head frosh-soph coach. "I'm excited; I feel like we have a solid group of girls here."

One of five first-year volleyball coaches in the area, Deter inherits a club that floated around the .500 mark last fall, finishing at 15-16. Morrison did break even in the Three Rivers Conference's North Division with a 7-7 mark but is now part of a realigned, eight-team West Division that includes such area powers as Erie, Fulton, Orion and Sherrard.

"My biggest concern is that we work on staying focused, and keeping that focus for an entire match," she said. "We can take steps forward from there."

A senior nucleus led by setters Brooke Ryan and Liz Green and such front-line talents as middle blocker Adrienne Banks and outside blocker Lakin Goodman gives Deter the confidence that Morrison can move in a forward direction.

"I think our solid front row will be our strength," she said. "In all six of our rotations, we can have attackers no matter where they're at on the floor."

Nelson looks to maintain Tigers' progress: At Sherrard, former Orion assistant Angie Nelson steps into Lori Brown's head-coaching shoes after the latter was not rehired by the school board following a 20-16 finish last fall that included a 9-3 TRAC South mark and a share of second place with the rival Chargers.

With a group of seven seniors headed up by standout hitter Chelsey Crippen, Nelson thinks she has a team that can keep the Tigers moving forward as she looks to build on the work Brown accomplished in her 13 years at the helm.

"With a lot of strong players returning, I think we're poised for some good play this year," she said. "We have made a lot of changes, so it's just a matter of everybody jelling."

Miller hopes to keep Titans in the right direction: At Monmouth-Roseville, former Titan assistant Lisa Miller (no relation to the Ridgewood coach of the same name) hopes to keep her team moving in the right direction after last year's 18-13 finish, which followed a three-year run in which Mon-Rose went 14-75.

"I'm very excited," said Miller, who returns such All-West Central Conference standouts as senior middle blocker Emma Willhardt. "I think we can be as successful as last year, if not more so. I think we have a good chance (in the WCC North race); we certainly have that potential."

Higgins hopes to add stability to Eagles: At Mercer County, former AlWood prep Malorie Higgins becomes the fourth head coach in the last three seasons to lead the Golden Eagles, who had two coaches — Lonnie Rinell and then Lara Swanson — in 2013 when they finished 16-15.

That record gave Mercer County its third consecutive winning season, something the former Malorie McCready hopes to maintain this fall behind the senior trio of co-captains Emily Lower, Bailey Swanson and Hannah Terrill.

Assisted by former Golden Eagle Whitney Frieden, Higgins has accumulated assistant-coaching experience first at her alma mater and then at Bushnell-Prairie City. She hopes to make the most of that in her first head-coaching gig.

"There's been so much inconsistency with a different coach in the last three years," she said. "I'm very excited about this. There's going to be a lot of work involved, but I'm ready for it. I feel like we're capable of better things."

Etheridge hopes to take Prophets to the next level: At Prophetstown, Jennifer Etheridge takes the reins from Arthur Wyckoff, who guided the Lady Prophets to a 12-20 finish in his one year at the helm before leaving to take a teaching post at United Township. However, that record belies a strong late-season finish that got the Prophets to within one win of their first regional title since 1982.

With several key pieces returning, including senior hitters Shelby Adams and Clare Kramer and junior middle-blocking powerhouse Claire Milnes, Etheridge is encouraged by her squad's 2014 prospects.

"They've meshed well together, and they work well as a team," she said. "This past summer, we played in a league at Westwood (in Sterling), and although we had some weeks without all of the girls, we still walked away with the championship. They really want to push themselves and see how far we can get."


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)