By Chris Parker
Southwest volleyball will be looking to bounce back from a two-win season last year behind the leadership of a trio of senior captains in Olivia Erwin, Anna Church and Signe Suchowski.
Erwin, who will play libero, is a two-year starter. She is the team’s top passer on defense and out of receive according to head coach Steven Voyak. Church, a defensive specialist, is a speedy player with three varsity letters. Suchowski, an outside, saw limited varsity action as a junior but will see much more varsity time this year.
The junior trio of Lyric Bernard, Juliauna Sierra and Brooklynn Slye are three more upperclassmen for the Lady Trojans to lean on.
Bernard is an outside who is the team’s top hitter. She has improved in serve reception and back row defense. Sierra earned a varsity letter last year and will play right side and setter this year. Slye is a middle who has become more consistent as a hitter, blocker and server after earning her first varsity letter last year.
Southwest has a large group of sophomores ready to contribute including: Kaleigh Tull, Kelsee Merritt, Riley Flippo, Raeli Miles, Laura Henry and Montana Skelton. Tull led the team in blocks as a freshman with 13. She will play in the middle. Merritt is a right side hitter who earned a letter as a freshman. Flippo is an outside hitter who has shown promise in the summer. Miles will be in the mix at defensive specialist. Henry lettered as a freshman in a limited role as a 6-2 setter. This year Miles will have more responsibility as a setter in a 5-1. Skelton will play middle blocker.
Southwest knows where improvements need to be made to earn more wins.
“We focused on three things all summer: serve reception, serving more aggressively and accurately and improving our attack (killing the ball),” Voyak said. “We made significant strides but we need to show consistency, especially over a day-long tournament or a five-set match against a quality opponent. It will all come down to ball control.”
Southwest will travel to Hurley for a jamboree with the host Tigers, Wheaton and Purdy before opening the season on Aug. 27 at the Verona Tournament.
“I like our work ethic, the girls worked hard in the summer and showed flashes of what we could be,” Voyak said. “Our young players need to take the next step and our seniors need to step up and lead. We played 35 summer games and when we put it all together, we were fun to watch but when we reverted back to the 2021 version of Southwest volleyball, we struggled.”