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Cavaliers ready to create chaos on volleyball court

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Faith Danielson serves the ball during the Region 1A match against Waubay/Summit last season at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 11/1/2022

While most of the intense action takes place at the net in a volleyball match, the Aberdeen Roncalli Cavaliers plan to set the pace from behind the service line this season.

“I like creating chaos,” said Roncalli coach Mandy Smid. “I’ve always said, that we don’t have to be the strongest, we don’t have to be the tallest, we just have to be the smartest.”

That means that the Cavaliers want to put their foes on the defensive with their serves and dictate the course of action.

“I like to win volleyball games from behind the service line,” Smid said. “I like to have a strong serve to give ourselves more of a chance on the defensive side when we aren’t quite as tall, if we can create some chaos right away. So I’m looking for that strong serving again.”

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Once the ball is in play, look for Roncalli to once again feature a squad that will chase down every ball on every play.

“They’re true competitors,” Smid said, “and they’re ready to grind and go after everything.”

The leader of that defensive mindset is senior Camryn Bain, who will once again patrol the back row and get the Cavaliers into their offense.

“We definitely have designed everything around (her) and we want the ball to be coming to us through Camryn’s hands,” Smid said.

The coach said that Bain leads by example.

“She’s very steady and competitive,” Smid said, “but doesn’t have a lot of highs and lows, just very let’s get down to business and let’s take care of it.”

Front row punch will come from junior Ava Hanson, who was one of the team’s top hitters a year ago.

Smid said that Hanson is a leader and always looking for ways to help the Cavaliers improve.

“She has definitely set the tone for how hard she wants the team to work for this coming season,” Smid said.

Roncalli will feature a balanced squad that includes four players who saw major varsity minutes last season. That group includes Maddie Huber, Jaidyn Feickert, Faith Danielson, and McKenna O’Keefe.

Smid said that Rylee Voeller and Morgan Helms will also be counted on to fill spots on the floor.

“We have all these expectations with these players that are versatile,” Smid said, “but really Cam is a back row player and Faith being a setter in the back row, it does leave some of those positions open for some younger athletes to step up and fill in those roles.”

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Camryn Bain digs out a serve during a match against Tiospa Zina last season at the Aberdeen Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 9/1/2022

Smid said the Cavaliers have some big long-range goals this year, but will focus on the short-term objectives along the way to help make those possible.

“We want to be conference champs, we want to make it to the SoDak 16, we want to go to the state tournament, and those are great things,” Smid said, “but what are we going to do on a weekly basis to get there?”

Roncalli opens its season with a pair of traditional powers on the schedule. The Cavaliers play at Northwestern on Tuesday, and host Class A Miller the following week. Both competed in the state tournament a year ago.

“We’ve put in quite a few hours here this preseason that we’re at a point where we’re ready to play,” Smid said. “We’re ready to be battle tested, and see some of those things that are exposed and see how we react to those and if we’re able to fix it on the spot, or if it’s something that we have to come back and hammer out and do some adjustments.”

Regardless, the Cavaliers are prepared and ready to go create some chaos this upcoming season.

“I feel really good, the girls feel really good about where we’re at and what we’ve been able to do in practice,” Smid said, “so excited to be able to come out so strong and to have that test right away.”

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