Mid-State 6 Conference Volleyball Outlook
The Richwoods volleyball team has won 11 straight Mid-State 6 Conference championships.
Coach Cheryl Forgason, who retired at the end of last season, was at the helm for many of those titles.
Ben Fisher, coach and program director at the Unique Performance Volleyball Club in Peoria, takes over as Richwoods head coach.
So, the big question is: Can Fisher keep the conference streak alive, or will Peoria Notre Dame, which also has a new head coach (former ND assistant coach and Annawan head coach Rebecca Subert), finally claim the Mid-State 6 title?
We will have to wait and see how it plays out.
That is going to be a lot of fun to watch — maybe even more fun than last year, when those two teams played a couple intense, back-and-forth matches, including a 25-13, 20-25, 25-23 Richwoods victory on “Volley for the Cure” night Oct. 7, which clinched the title for the Lady Knights.
Richwoods and Notre Dame are evenly matched once again, so the matches should be just as close.
Both teams return several key players. Even though the coaches are new, the style of play in this crosstown conference rivalry should be just as intense.
Notre Dame returns senior Ashley Voudrie, arguably the conference’s best overall player. Voudrie had six kills, three aces and 10 digs in the final game against Richwoods last year.
Voudrie is a tough blocker who can also play above the net and take over the game with her serve.
Last year, former Irish coach Jim Smalley said, “Ashley is explosive. She has a good, hard serve that can cause big problems for another team.”
Voudrie will have solid group of returning starters around her.
Senior Elle Bielfeldt and juniors Christine Svoboda and Kristin Itschner all received all-conference recognition last year.
Bielfeldt and Itschner had several spectacular digs in that final match against Richwoods last year.
Just as the ball was about the hit the gym floor, one of them skidded to the ground and scooped the ball back into the air. After the match, Forgason said, “They brought up some balls that not many players would not be able to handle.” Itschner had 14 digs in the first match against Richwoods last September.
Svoboda had a game-high 15 assists in a win over Woodruff last year.
“We have a lot of great athletes coming back, and they have a lot of experience,” Subert said. “I expect us to compete for the conference title. Those two matches against Richwoods will be the big test for us.”
Richwoods returns eight seniors, including the area’s top returning setter, Krista Moery, who has 28 assists against the Irish last year.
“We lost a couple great players (Kelli Dunne and Shyla Nott), but we have a lot of good players coming back. We had a great summer and I think that will carry over into the season,” Moery said.
Cora Nott, Shyla’s younger sister, is the top returning hitter.
“Cora was on my club team this summer. She has improved a lot. She’s going to be one of the best hitters in this area,” Moery said.
Katlyn Miller, Sam Montgomery, Kate White, Clare Barres, Kate Lane and Megan Frager also return.
Moery said she will miss Forgason, but she looks forward to playing for Fisher, too.
“We were shocked when Coach Forgason retired. We all loved playing for her,” she said. “Coach Fisher is a little more intense, but we’re familiar with him from club volleyball. He knows us, and I think he’ll do a really nice job.”