New-look Sabers seek to grow in 2019

Members of the 2019 Central DeWitt volleyball team are (front, from left) Taylor Veach, Samantha Zeimet, Alyssa Eden, Kaity Frick, Crystal Burke, Carleigh Jefford, Lauren Cooper; (back) Hannah Palzkill, Ava Morris, Elaina Schroeder, Kathryn Grau, Morgan Machovec, Grace Pierce and Talbot Kinney.

One of the most experienced teams in the WaMaC East a season ago, the Central DeWitt volleyball team finds itself on the other side of the spectrum this time around.

The Sabers had six different players take part in at least 90 sets during the 2018 season.

All six were seniors.

The result is a Central roster loaded with new faces.

Of the 13 Sabers players who have seen action so far this fall, only two played in more than 50 sets the year before. Seven, meanwhile, have made their varsity debuts this fall.

With plenty of new pieces, the work in the early going has been getting them to fit together.

The Sabers have the luxury of turning to seniors in key positions.

Seniors Carleigh Jefford and Lauren Cooper will provide experience at the net.

Jefford appeared in 84 sets during her junior campaign and put down 49 kills, while also finishing fourth on the team with 20 blocks.

Cooper added 11 kills of her own in 31 sets of work during her junior year, while matching that number with 11 blocks (she has already surpassed both of those numbers in the early season).

The duo has received help on the attack by a number of new faces.

Junior Talbot Kinney leads the team in both attack attempts (138) and kills (36) through the Sabers’ first eight matches and has provided a lift on the defensive end as well with 104 digs.

Sophomore Ava Morris has added 33 kills of her own on 101 attack attempts and has 15 blocks.

Junior Kathryn Grau and sophomore Elaina Schroeder have both made impacts in the middle. The former had seven kills and five blocks in her varsity debut, while the latter leads the team with 21 blocks and has added 20 kills.

Senior Alyssa Eden has stepped in as one of the setters in the Sabers’ offense.

A defensive specialist as a junior — she had 12 digs and one assist in 22 varsity sets — Eden is averaging nearly three assists per set in the early going, while continuing her strong defensive play with 55 digs.

Sophomore Taylor Veach joined Eden as a setter in the early season — she had 61 assists in her first six matches — before being sidelined.

Veach had an impressive freshman campaign that saw her put down 57 kills, dish out 40 assists and come up with 18 blocks.

In Veach’s absence, junior Grace Pierce has teamed with Eden and has 17 assists.

Senior Kaity Frick, meanwhile, has taken over as the team’s libero.

After collecting 16 digs in 19 sets as a junior, Frick has seen that number leap all the way to 98 in the Sabers’ first nine matches.

Pierce can help in the back row as well and so can junior Morgan Machovec, who has piled up 25 digs in her first six sets of work.

The Sabers’ final year in the WaMaC East will be as difficult as ever.

In fact, four of the seven teams in the division can be found in the state rankings and near the top, too.

Beckman Catholic is the third-ranked team in Class 2A, while Mount Vernon is No. 5 in 3A. West Delaware is ranked fifth as well in 4A — four spots ahead of Marion.