Buss hopes Cedar’s depth can put them back in post-season
HARTINGTON — Maybe season seven could bring even more luck to Cedar Catholic head coach Denae Buss.
The Lady Trojans’ leader will try to navigate her team through a tough schedule once again, and a COVID-19 pandemic, to try to get her girls back among the elite in 2020.
The program finished second in state in 2017 and 2018 under Buss. Prior to that, Cedar claimed state titles in 1988 and 2011.
Coach Buss and the rest of the Cedar faithful would like to add a third state title to the trophy cabinet.
The team comes off of a 19-14 season that saw them advance to the state playoffs for the fourth straight year, finishing fourth a year ago after dropping a 3-0 decision to eventual D1 champions Diller-Odell in the semifinals and a 5-set decision to Pleasanton in the third-place game.
Buss will have to try to make it five straight state trips without Aiden Wortmann, Kenlee Goeden, Abby Hochstein, Tori Arens and Ann Steffen.
However, libero Megan Heimes, who was first team All-State last year, OH Brynn Wortmann and MH Brooklyn Kuehn are three seniors that Buss can rely on to keep the winning trend going forward.
Gracie Dickes is another senior who could offer some strong leadership on the outside and sophomore MH Laney Kathol returns after being the Lady Trojans’ youngest starter a year ago.
“Our strengths this year would definitely be our depth,” Buss said. “We have many players capable of starting and contributing for the good of the team.”
One thing is that Mid State Conference play should once again be a quagmire as the defending champion girls from Cedar Catholic could face plenty of challenges.
“It looks like any team could win,” Buss said. “We all lost significant contributors, so it will be whoever has new players step up.”
Heimes is feeling relieved to just be able to step back onto the court and compete for the Lady Trojans after being kept in limbo for much of the summer.
“I am glad to be able to play the game with all my friends and teammates,” Heimes said. “There are still some unknowns, but we are taking each day and being thankful that we get to play. You get a little scared because my last year may not happen. But, during the summer we tried to focus on weightlifting and to get ready for the season.”
Heimes is feeling confident about the team’s chances to add to its recent run of success thanks to the group’s unity and ability to work well together.
“We are all hard workers and we really want to win, so that will make us go farther,” Heimes said. “We are all willing to fix whatever it is we need to fix. We are good at communicating with each other. It will be good.
“Our passing is working, and our sets are being spread around. When we move the ball around and we can run fast paced, we get our opponents on their heels. When we are aggressive that really helps. We are really wellrounded.”
Heimes did add that her team needs to continue to build its confidence and shake off errors faster.
“We are very hard on ourselves because we want to be perfect,” Heimes said.
Buss has one eye on the COVID-19 threat and is planning accordingly, while she also knows just what her team is capable of going forward.
“This summer we did some smaller groups in the beginning of June,” Buss said. “We just feel blessed to have a season, as you see other states cancelling seasons. We are hoping to make this a great season and cherish the time we have together.
“Our goals are like every year and that is to end our season at the state tournament and bring home some hardware. Maybe a championship this time?”
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