GLADWIN – The future looks bright for Gladwin Volleyball even after losing seven seniors from a team that went 27-15 overall and 11-3 in the conference. They also won their third straight district crown. Coach Tony Wetmore welcomed his largest freshman turnout ever last Wednesday when tryouts began. He liked much of what he saw from the new players. Wetmore says this will not be a “rebuilding year.” They have to replace a lot of talented players, but they have a lot of the tools that they need to be successful. He added, “It is a matter of putting it all together.” The junior varsity team had a lot of success last year and a lot of those girls will get significant playing time this year.
This year’s team will likely be made up of 5-6 seniors, 6-7 juniors and one sophomore. Three starters from last year’s team return; seniors Alexis Wheeler and Brooke Chenette along with junior Chloe Kokotovich. Chenette is healthy and cleared to play and is very excited to be back on the court. She worked very hard in the offseason to be ready for the start of the summer league. She is entering her fourth year as a setter. She started at that position on the junior varsity team as a freshman and will be starting on the varsity for the third consecutive year. Wheeler will be playing in the middle and Kokotovich will be one of the main offensive threats.
Grace Beardsley will be an outside hitter. Delaney Cote and Taylor Vasher will alternate between outside hitter and right side hitter in the early going, until they can decide which is the best fit for each. The sophomore is Renee Parrett who will be making her varsity debut as the Libero.
The team has been working out all summer. 22-24 girls were showing up three days a week working very hard to prepare for the season. They also went to camp at Ferris State University this summer. Wetmore said it was one of the largest groups he has ever taken.
Coach Wetmore has also changed up his scheduling philosophy this year. Rather than participating in a couple daylong tournaments they will play in more tri and quad competitions. This type of scheduling prevents things from snowballing if they are having a bad day. He feels that it will allow them to get plenty of action without the downside of possibly enduring a long day. In an early season scheduling quirk both Gladwin and Beaverton will be at the Freeland Quad on August 28.
We know that the Flying G’s are going to be good this year, but what is their ceiling? Wetmore will meet with the team on Monday to discuss their expectations. They will set their goals for the year together. He believes that he has a good team and has some ideas, but the ultimate goals will depend on what the girls think. Last year’s conference champion, Houghton Lake, has moved on to another conference. Leaving second place Beaverton as the main challenge. The Beavers will be the team to beat this year with Clare and Pinconning also providing a strong challenge. Beyond the conference Gladwin will be trying to win its fourth straight district title. I think that it is a good bet that the G’s will be a tough out for Beaverton and tough to beat in the state tournament.