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Depth and experience will fuel West’s drive toward the top

North Liberty Leader
IOWA CITY– Last year, West High’s Women of Troy made it to the state tournament in Cedar Rapids under first-year coach Randy Dolson. The team posted a 28-12 record overall after falling, 3-1, to Bettendorf in the quarterfinal round. The team lost three seniors– Madi Miller, Mikaela Morgan and Laynie Whitehead– but Dolson is confident the 2015 squad will be a force to contend with.
Six juniors– Emma Norris, Ali Tauchen, Emily Halverson, Maddie Fay, Madi Ford and Gabi Delsing– make up the core of the starting line-up.
Norris is an outside hitter, Dolson noted. “(She’s) a great jumper, very good attacker. She will be fun to watch, really came on at end of last season,” said Dolson.
Tauchen, a middle blocker is a great leader, great all-around athlete, great attacker, very good blocker, by Dolson’s standards and he’s expecting big things from her.
Halverson, also a middle blocker, is a great blocker, Dolson said. “I’m looking for improved offensive attack, (she’s) a good leader.”
Fay, a setter, has good hands, the coach said. “(She has) a good grasp of offense and led the team as quarterback (setter) last season.”
Ford, a defensive specialist, has lots of energy, is a great passer and floor defender, and will challenge for libero, the coach said.
Delsing, also a defensive specialist, is considered a very good passer with excellent technique. “First defensive specialist off the bench last season,” Dolson said, adding she, too, will challenge for the libero spot.
Four seniors– Anna Mabry, Hannah Birt, Marissa Frisbie and Lauren Ries– are also back this season.
Mabry, an outside hitter, will be fighting for playing time. Dolson said she’s a good attacker, passer, server and jumper.
Birt, a defensive specialist, is a good floor defender, he said. “(She’s) a good server, will challenge for playing time.”
Frisbie, a middle blocker and right side hitter, although “not flashy,” is a steady performer, Dolson’s said. He also said she will add depth to the frontcourt for West this season.
Ries, a defensive specialist, will also be challenging for playing time this season as a “good floor defender” and “good server.”
Three juniors and three sophomores are new to the squad.
Aubrey Sowers (junior, setter) started all matches with the sophomore squad last season and is “a good quarterback, good floor defender and good blocker.”
Claire Keller (junior, outside hitter/right side hitter) is a good attacker, passer and jumper, Dolson said. “(She) will be fighting for playing time on the outside or right side.”
Mia Taylor (junior, outside hitter) is also a good attacker, passer and jumper, the coach said, adding she, too, will be fighting for playing time on the outside.
Maddie Laffey (sophomore, middle blocker/right side hitter) was a starter for the sophomore squad last year and will be in the fight for playing time on the right side, Dolson said, adding she is “a very good blocker.”
Colby Greene (sophomore, right side hitter) was another starter for last year’s sophomore squad and is expected to challenge for right side playing time. The coach noted she, too, is a good blocker and attacker.
Chandler Haight (sophomore, outside hitter/right side hitter) will be in the fight for time on the outside or right side as a good attacker, passer and jumper, he said.
“We have very good depth, good experience, good mix of veterans and newcomers,” Dolson said. “[The team has] good team speed, very good defense, (we) should be a good passing team.”
Dolson and company have Cedar Rapids Kennedy, Linn-Mar, Cedar Rapids Prairie and Bettendorf all circled on the calendar as strong teams in the area. Dolson even went so far as to point out who he sees as the area’s top players: City High’s Alexa Aldrich-Ingram, Kennedy’s Anna Fluent, Linn-Mar’s Ellie Anderson and Amanda Ollinger, Prairie’s Kate Busswitz and West’s Tauchen and Halverson.
Looking at Class 5A in general, Dolson sees defending Champion Ankeny Centennial, Des Moines Valley, Southeast Polk, Linn-Mar, Bettendorf, Kennedy and West as the contenders for a title run this season.
The 2015 campaign opens on Thursday, Aug. 27, with an invitational at Cedar Rapids Prairie starting at 5:30 p.m. West hosts City in the annual Battle for The Spike on Tuesday, Sept. 8.