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West girls spikers had special season

Transition year turned into championship season

Nov. 7, 2011

New Berlin - Coach Joel Golsteyn continues to win with the New Berlin West girls volleyball team, as the Vikings won the Woodland Conference Blue Division for the third year in a row.

They finished with an overall record of 28-6, 8-1 in conference play and 6-0 in the Blue Division. They finished second in the conference tournament.

During the year, they won the West Allis Central Invite and finished second in both their own invitational and the Kettle Moraine Invite.

As a result of their success, they earned several all-conference honors, led by Sarah Franzen, who was the Blue Division Player of the Year.

Franzen, a sophomore setter, Gina Pezze, a sophomore outside hitter, and Rebecca Gasper, a senior middle hitter, were first-team Blue Division selections.

Second-team Blue Division selections were juniors Casey Luehrs (outside hitter) and Kellie Shaw (libero), while honorable mention honors went to junior Carly Hubert (middle hitter).

Three players earned first-team spots on the Woodland All-Conference Team (Combined Blue & Black Divisions) - Franzen, Pezze and Gasper.

Team awards announced

New Berlin West also announced their team awards for the season.

The Team MVP was Franzen and team captains were Gasper and Franzen.

The Vikings statistical leaders for the season were Rebecca Gasper in kills (243) and blocks (56); Franzen in assists (732); Shaw in digs (311); and Casey Luehrs in aces (60).

The Vikings' success was impressive because this was a team in major transition, as several players switched positions since the Vikings team lost two first-team all-conference players who were also the team captains.

Without any setters returning, Franzen switched from ride-side hitter to the setter spot.

"The results were outstanding and far exceeded our expectations," Golsteyn said. "We changed our offense from a 6-2 to a 5-1, which puts a lot of responsibility on our setter. Our team had a nice complement of hitters that needed a setter to control our offense.

"Sarah did a great job orchestrating our offense and only got better as our season progressed, earning several postseason honors, topped off by the Player of the Year in the division."

Golsteyn also moved Pezze from the right side to the outside.

"Gina's transition to the outside was astounding as well," Golsteyn said. "She had to learn the new position which included playing back row and being one of our main passers on serve receive. She did a great job and was second on the team in kills with 228 and third on the team in digs with 180. At season's end she was our most dominant hitter and we looked to her on the big points."

Shaw was the third player to switch positions and make a difference with the switch to a 5-1 offense.

More lineup switches

West had to bring in a new right side hitter and switch our libero to play the back left position. Rachel Gasper played the right side and Shaw (libero) made the back row transition.

"Kellie did a great job moving closer to the action in the front row," Golsteyn said. "She did just what we had hoped for by getting more coverage touches and becoming the setter when Sarah would end up digging any balls. Kellie and Rachel both did a great job connecting for numerous kills and attacks."

Gasper returned to the middle hitter position along with Hubert and Luehrs returned for her third year at the outside hitter position.

"With all of the switches that we made to this team, I could not have been happier with the results of this season," Golsteyn said. "We competed against numerous D1 opponents this year, faring well against all of them and won a few of them as well.

"This team met every challenge and never laid down for any opponent. Our 28-6 record shows that, with our losses only coming against NB Ike, Nicolet, Germantown, Mukwonago and Wisconsin Lutheran."

The Vikings were ranked in the Top 10 of Division 2 for almost the entire season, which ended a tough loss at sixth-ranked Wisconsin Lutheran in the regional.

"Returning many of these girls to next year's team will make for a season ripe with opportunities," Golsteyn said.

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