Written by Jeffrey D. Norwalk
Friday, 29 August 2008 08:09
Coach Nick Woodall is streaking into his third full season at the helm of the Genoa Comets’ ever-soaring volleyball program with a 30-18 career record and an impressive second place finish to only the talent-laden Lakota Raiders in the Suburban Lakes League in 2007.
After last season saw the Comets go 11-3 in conference play and 18-6 overall, and with the support of local fan phenomenon simply known as the “Comet Crazies,” one would expect Woodall’s program to fall back to earth soon.
Don’t expect that to happen. Coach Woodall has an all-star crew of five proven, returning varsity letter winners, featuring seniors Alexa Ansell and Kallie Stahl, and juniors Chelsea MacDonald, Sarah Muncey, and Mariah Teet. In addition, he has a virtual cargo of talented underclassmen.
“We defeated Lakota for their only SLL loss last year,” offers Woodall.
Woodall is quick to add that it took place on the defending champions’ “Senior Night,” and went down on their always intimidating home floor.
“And this year we are looking for tough matches with Otsego and Eastwood, who return a lot of players and are fairly tall,” Woodall said.
“Otsego might be a sleeper,” he scouts, “because they didn’t have the greatest record last year, but they did take everyone except us to five games. And Gibsonburg is always good as well.”
So is Woodall’s returning senior lieutenant and First-Team All-SLL/All-District middle hitter Ansell, who at 5-11, hangs in the air like she has a jet pack strapped to her back. Ansell notched 230 kills (which Coach Nick says is only four away from the school record of kills) and came within 15 blocks shy of the GHS record for blocks in a career. After her senior season, she’ll rocket off to Northern Kentucky University where she’s already committed to play collegiate volleyball next fall.
Joining Woodall and Ansell will be fellow senior standout Stahl. Her nickname might as well be “Miss Ball Control” the way in which she handles the volleyball with ease and wills it to go wherever she wants it to go as Genoa’s all-important setter.
Junior outside hitter Chelsea MacDonald and junior right side hitter Sarah Muncey should have a pivotal year after coming off the bench as role players in ’07. Woodall says they have worked hard to get bigger, stronger, and better all-around in the off-season.
A pair of quick liberos in defensive specialists Mariah Teet, a junior, and super-sophomore Brandi Schimming, have been pushing each other hard for that crucial spot throughout summer practice.
Those “Comet Crazies” and other fans coming through the turnstiles won’t be seeing Chelsea Nissen this year, as the longtime Genoa mainstay has moved on to help build a winner at Baldwin Wallace. But the faithful of the maroon and gray will be treated first-hand to sophomores 5-3 setter Hannah Morrison, 5-10 middle Jessica Feller, and 5-9 outside hitter Alyssa Meis.
“I personally don’t look at a volleyball lineup for starters,” interjects Coach Woodall, “because to me each player has their role, and certain lineups start better than others. So to me, starters aren’t so important. It’s all about each person fulfilling their role.”