IOWA CITY– 2011 was a banner year for the West High Women of Troy on the volleyball court: 4A state tournament banner, Mississippi Valley Conference (MVC) tournament champs (fourth consecutive) and MVC regular season champs banner (third consecutive).
Add in their second consecutive Class 4A state championship, and 2011 was an emotional rollercoaster for the team as they spent the season mourning and honoring friend and teammate Caroline Found. Found was killed in August just weeks before the school year started.
This season, Coach Kathy Bresnahan and her Women of Troy face a new challenge as nearly half the 2011 squad graduated in May, including Anna Pashkova, Caroline Hartman, Hannah Infelt, Olivia Mekies, Shelly Stumpff, Olivia Fairfield and Kelley Fliehler. Led by these seven seniors, West put up a 39-6 record including a lucky 13-match winning streak that stretched all the way to the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena and the state championship.
“It’s a difficult transition year,” Bresnahan said, “with no solid experience to anchor the team.” But, she said, “we’re seeing great leadership already from Laynie Whitehead (sophomore) and Hannah Fairfield (junior).”
Mollie Mason (junior) returns to the starting line-up with returning letter winners Emily Carpenter, Emily Merdinger and Lynn Jehle (all seniors). Ally Disterhoft returns to the team after sitting-out last year, giving the team four seniors total. Fairfield and Elizabeth Klemme are juniors while sophomores Michaela Morgan, Toni Martins and Maddie Miller are expected to continue the winning ways of the Women of Troy.
“Watch for West High to improve tremendously as the season progresses,” Bresnahan said, noting her young hitters have “the capability to be pretty decent,” if consistency can be found in setting and defense.
This is Bresnahan’s 21st year at West where she’s racked up a 625-180 record overall, 538-159 at West. With her experienced eyes, Bresnahan sees rival City High, Dubuque Hempstead, Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids Kennedy contending for the 4A title.
Of course, the West High school motto is “Where Excellence is a Tradition.” In other words, don’t count the Women of Troy out when the postseason rolls around.