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Cedar girls start season with huge expectations

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HARTINGTON — Going to state in volleyball is not just an expectation at Cedar Catholic High School, it is believed to almost be a duty set in stone.

OK, well maybe not quite that dramatic, but the Lady Trojans and the state tournament are about as synonymous with each other as wedding bands are for newlyweds.

So, to say the 2021 Lady Trojans expect to go back to State would be an understatement.

The season opens up Thursday night at home in a triangular against Homer and Randolph.

Head coach Denae Buss enters her eighth year in charge with plenty of talent back from a 17-14 team that got knocked out in State quarterfinals last year.

Seniors Olivia Hamilton (S), Cady Uttecht (S) and Jordyn Steffen (DS/L) and juniors Laney Kathol (MB), Meredith McGregor (S) and Jozie Becker (RS) will team up with junior OH Makenna Noecker who returns from injury and youngsters like sophomores Grace Wortmann (OH), Lexi Eickhoff (MH), Annika Kuehn (L) and Wayne transfer, Katy Jones (OH) to form a strong roster once again.

Uttecht is one of a bevy of setters on the team and she said the team is feeling good about its possibilities this fall.

“We have a younger team than we did last year, but our team chemistry is going to be good overall,” Uttecht said. “In the coming up years there is quite a lot of athleticism and that should continue to grow,” she said. “I think our offense will take off this year with our quick sets to our middles and outsides – we run a lot of plays to move our hitters around pretty good to keep the blockers off our hitters and give them open looks to get the kill.

Uttecht noted the Lady Trojans having lost their three top defensive specialists from a year ago.

“Defense will definitely be the biggest thing we work on this year. I do think we will be fine if we continue to work on defense,” Uttecht said. “State is always the goal, so I am hoping to get back to Lincoln.”

Buss has the luxury of having multiple setters to count on.

“We return our trio of veteran setters, all capable of running varsity offenses and willing to contribute anywhere on the court,” Buss said. “Our team has a lot of potential to go far this season and our schedule will once again have us well prepared for the post season.”

The team is a good mixture of veterans and rookies.

“We have a few new faces that are working hard to hold their own and are led by our six upper classmen,” Buss said.

Buss said she can also call on talent from a strong-looking JV squad this year.

“We have a lot of young talent working hard to keep the competition at a high level,” Buss said. “Overall, we will have a great team mentality and help each other improve every day.”

Buss expects the conference to be strong again and the schedule is loaded with teams like Guardian Angels Central Catholic, Battle Creek and Norfolk Catholic that should offer plenty of challenges.

“Our tournaments will see some great competition, and in D1, we have some tough competition with BDS and Howells Dodge,” Buss said.

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