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A loaded senior class, eight returning letterwinners and five starters greet a new coaching staff at North Mahaska as the volleyball season tips off. The team looks to improve on its 10-10 season mark and sixth place finish in the South Iowa Cedar League.

Under the direction of Erica Groom, who served as an assistant a year ago, the Warhawks hope to make noise in league play. Groom will be assisted by Amber Goemaat and Alisha Briggs.

North Mahaska will have to replace all-conference and all-district performer Maddie McKay. Returning is all-conference honorable mention junior Jalayna Shipley, who was libero a year ago. She will be joined by seniors Layla Hargis, Zoe Deucore, Kaitlyn VanDonselaar, Carlie Scholtus and Alyssa Scheihing. Sophomore Colby Sampson and junior Caitlin Sanders also saw action in 2020.

“We have a really good chance at doing well in the conference,” said Groom. “We have five returning starters and seven seniors this year.”

Groom said she her team could finish in the top three of the South Iowa Cedar League. She cited the experience returning in addition to a strong freshman class and newcomers to the district.

Front row (l-r): Jalayna Shipley, Regan Grewe, Colby Sampson and Libby Groom. Second row: Carlie Scholtus, Kaitelyn VanDonselaar, Zoe Deucore, Morgan Hudson and Caitlin Sanders. Back row: Brecken Schilling, Lexi Van Utrecht, Layla Hargis, Alyssa Scheihing, Makayla Darland and manager Lucy Gipple.

“We have a full class of freshman coming in, 14 in total,” said Groom. “Many of them have played travel volleyball and know the game well. We have a couple new freshman that just moved to the district, Bryn Hyde, Marissa Little, and Maddie Hall. We are excited to have senior Morgan Hudson back on the court. She took a year off but has been working hard to rejoin us.”

Last year’s conference winner Belle Plaine and runnerup Montezuma also have a good group of returners to challenge North Mahaska.

“This is my first year as head coach,” said Groom. “I had the privilege of being an assistant last year so I know some of the girls pretty well. This year as my assistants I have Amber Goemaat and Alisha Briggs. I’m excited to be working with them and learning from their leadership and coaching style as they have had great success coaching volleyball in the past

“We are focusing on teamwork and positivity with all 29 girls and talk a lot about mental toughness. This summer, in the off season, approximately 14 girls were going to open gym and lifting pretty regularly. Their commitment to the sport will show on the court. It’s going to be a great season.”

2021 Schedule
Aug. 31 at Monte Tourney. 5 p.m.
Sept. 7 Tri-County
Sept. 11 at Chariton tourney
Sept. 13 Lynnville-Sully (HC)
Sept. 18 North Mahaska Invitational
Sept. 20 at HLV
Sept. 21 at Colfax-Mingo
Sept. 27 at BGM
Sept. 30 at Tri-County
Oct. 2 JV tourney at BGM
Oct. 4 Keota
Oct. 5 Montezuma (Senior Night)
Oct. 7 at English Valleys
Oct. 11/14 SICL tourney
Oct. 18-27 Regionals
Nov. 1-4 State at Cedar Rapids