The Colo-NESCO volleyball team is still in the process of putting things together.
The Royals were swept by an undefeated Lynnville-Sully team at home Tuesday. They suffered a 25-11 loss in the first set, put up a better fight in the second before succumbing by a 25-17 score then went flat in the third set – losing by a 25-9 margin.
The setback put Colo-NESCO at 1-8. But despite the slow start, head coach Devin Womochil sees positives out of how her team has performed thus far.
“They came with a lot of team chemistry and confidence at the start of the season just because they get along so well,” Womochil said. “To them working as a team and improving is more important than winning or losing.”
Last season was Womochil’s first with the program. The Royals went 6-16, but won two of their final three matches in the regular season.
It will again take some time for things to start clicking for Colo-NESCO this fall. The Royals are replacing veteran setter Megan Carlson, middle blocker Gracie Kettwig, outside hitter Rylee Purvis and right-side hitter Emmy Hostetler.
“They already work so well together – it’s just a matter of consistency,” Womochil said. “It’s just being more consistent and knowing where the ball is.”
Two players Womochil has heavily leaned on thus far are senior outside hitter McKenzie Niemeyer and junior setter Izabell Voelker.
Niemeyer is coming back from an ACL injury she suffered at the end of basketball season last February.
“It’s only been five months,” Niemeyer said. “I’m just so happy they’re letting me play volleyball, especially all this is going on with (COVID-19). You don’t know how long we’ll be able to play and everything.”
Niemeyer has recovered enough to go all the way around for the Royals. She is tied for the team lead in aces (11), is second in kills (25) and tied for second in digs (39).
“I didn’t think we were going to have her back for the first part of the season,” Voelker said. “I’m just glad she was able to recover quickly because we really need her out there on the court.”
Niemeyer had three digs and aces apiece plus one kill against Lynnville-Sully.
“It’s kind of hard, but everyone’s been adjusting pretty good thus far,” Niemeyer said. “We have really good team chemistry, so that’s been really helpful.”
Niemeyer may be called on to do more in the near future. Senior leader Ayvarie Bappe has been battling a knee injury and was banged up against Lynnville-Sully.
“Hopefully someone will step up and fill in her shoes,” Niemeyer said.
Voelker had five assists, two digs and one kill against Lynnville-Sully. She admits it’s been an adjustment going from the JV setter a year ago to varsity this fall.
“Last year I didn’t play all the way around,” Voelker said. “It’s a lot, but I know that even if I do have one bad set I know my team will adjust and hit it.”
But so far things have gone pretty smoothly.
For the season Voelker has 75 assists and a team-high 41 digs. She’s also the Royals’ top server with 11 aces and 92.8-percent accuracy.
“Izzy – I love her sets,” Niemeyer said. “She’s been doing amazing. Megan (Carlson) obviously played a lot in high school and Izzy’s been doing really good filling in her shoes.”
Womochil is glad to have both of them on the court. They will be needed more than ever as Bappe (31 digs and 17 kills) deals with her injury.
“They’re really comfortable, which helps,” Womochil said. “Kenzie definitely plays a big role and so does Avery. Izzy has stepped up and taken on a big role as a leader of the offense too – she’s really coachable, resilient and can bounce back when she makes an error.”
The goal right now is to overcome adversity and get better every match.
“Since we had a lot of seniors graduate last season we’ve had a lot of people trying to fill shoes,” Voelker said. “We’re just trying our hardest to adjust to that. Volleyball is about errors – it’s going to happen. It’s just being able to bounce back from that.”
Colo-NESCO’s next match is Thursday night at AGWSR.