’Jacks boast strong front line; coach honoredCloquet Varsity Coach Heidi Anderson welcomed back her Cloquet bunch this week, as she and her fellow coaching staff – Hissa and Lana Arro – hosted tryouts at Cloquet High School. Anderson was named the 2010 Section 7AA Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET – Packed up and ready to travel to the annual summer coaches’ clinic this past July, Cloquet volleyball coach Heidi Anderson was simply getting prepared for another trip.
That’s when her assistant coach Nikki Hissa broke the startling news.
Anderson had been named the 2010 Section 7AA Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Coach of the Year.
“Nikki said ‘I didn’t know you were the Coach of the Year,’” recalled Anderson with a laugh, “and then I said, ‘I didn’t know that either.’”
To earn the prestigious award, Anderson was voted highest among her fellow section coaches. She received a commemorative plaque at the annual Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association clinic.
“I was kind of a surprised,” Anderson added. “It’s an honor to be voted by your fellow coaches.”
But Anderson doesn’t take the credit. To her, that belongs to her girls.
“I think it’s a testament to this program,” she said. “It’s a positive for these girls and their hard work ethic. I think it’s more their award than mine.”
Anderson welcomed back her Cloquet bunch this week, as she and her fellow coaching staff – Hissa and Lana Arro – hosted tryouts at Cloquet High School.
“We have 36 kids here,” Anderson said. “We have some good quality players and we’re happy with how hard they have been working so far.”
Anderson’s varsity roster is a mix of old and new.
“We have a lot of work to do, as we only have five back from the entire team,” said Anderson, pointing out returning senior hitters Maddie Kiehn, Emily Fossen and junior Abbie Anderson, plus freshmen setters Alex Oakes and Sami Westendorf. “All of the girls have been playing on different teams in the off-season and it’s the first time we’re all back together, but it’s been fun.”
Kiehn and Fossen are the club’s top hitters. The two have seven years of varsity experience combined and are both close to 6-feet tall. Junior hitter Kristie Wappes and fellow sophomore 6-footer Olivia Mayasich will provide some depth for Cloquet’s attack.
The unknown quantity will be the team’s back row play and defensive scheme.
“We graduated pretty much our entire back row,” said Anderson. “We have a lot of height and hitting power, but we’re going to have to get them the ball. We’ll need to put in some work on defense.
“Right now, there are still some questions, but I think that we have the personnel to compete. And our section is always tough.”
A year ago, Cloquet finished with an impressive 19-10 overall record, eventually falling to Hermantown in the Section 7AA semifinals. The Lumberjacks’ highlight of the season came when they defeated the Hawks for the Lake Superior Conference crown late in the year on their home floor. This year, they would like to do it again.
“That was really exciting,” Fossen said.
“I would say that’s our first goal, to win the conference again,” added Kiehn.
According to Kiehn, the team chemistry has never been better.
“We’re the old ladies,” said Kiehn, laughing about how long she and Fossen have been on the team. “But we all blend together pretty well, even with the younger kids. We are all getting along way better than any other year.”
Alex Oakes is the squad’s starting freshman setter. A person could basically call her the quarterback of the volleyball team.
Although she doesn’t have her driver’s license yet, Oakes is entering her third year on the varsity roster. That experience at a young age is likely set to roll over on some younger ones stepping up this fall.
“I like playing up,” Oakes said. “I’ve been playing for a while and feel really comfortable with these girls. And I’ve learned a lot, too. We’re not sure who the superstars are going to be this year, but I think we just need to not worry about our mistakes and focus on passing the ball.”
“If we can get the ball to our setters, I know we can put it away,” she said. “We have a very young team and all have a lot to work on, but I think we’re all learning really fast.”
With the section loaded with more competitive teams than ever – including Esko, Virginia, Hermantown and always-tough Hibbing – Anderson knows her girls will have to continue learning things even faster.
“I think we’ll be strong,” she said, “but we can’t look past anyone either. Our girls are working hard and I believe we’re going to have another good season.”
Cloquet will head to Hibbing for some exhibition scrimmages Aug. 20 and 22, before hosting Duluth East for the season opener at 7 p.m. Aug. 30 at
Cloquet High School.