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Consistency, communication will be keys to Braves' success

Lindsey White inherits a solid starting cast as the new head coach of the Menahga volleyball team.

The Braves return five starters from last year’s team that finished with a 3-4 record in Park Region Conference play and a 12-13 overall record. Returning to lead the Braves are seniors Cierra Ahlf, Madi Marjamaa and Olivia Yliniemi; and juniors Tara Hendrickson and Jessica Pietila.

Marjamaa returns as the starting setter after earning all-conference honors last season. In the 17 best-of-5 matches, Marjamaa had 430 set assists to surpass 1,000 in her career and added 45 ace serves, 157 digs and 55 kills.

Yliniemi was second on the team with 95 kills and had 40 digs and 12 ace serves as an outside hitter.

Hendrickson will play middle hitter after leading Menahga with 25 ace blocks a  year ago while contributing 78 kills and 15 digs.

Ahlf will play an outside hitter after compiling 73 kills, 153 digs and 14 ace serves last season.

Pietila returns as a right-side hitter after tallying 20 digs and nine ace serves.

Looking to fill the void left by the graduation of all-conference hitter Leah Schwartz (who led the team with 205 kills and had 235 digs and 22 ace serves) will be senior Jamie Erno (right-side hitter); sophomores Elly Hillukka (outside hitter) and Martha Peterson (outside hitter); and freshman Janie Tormanen (middle hitter). Hillukka and Peterson saw some varsity time last season. Logan Redetzke and Keylee Sommers will serve as White’s assistant coaches.

The Braves will be looking to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish in the conference and move up in the Section 6A ranks after being the No. 7 seed in the North last season. Wadena-Deer Creek is the defending conference and section champion.

“I feel we will be competitive this season. The girls have put in a lot of work in the summer. I am trying some different rotations and hope to see success with that,” said White, who takes over as head coach after being the junior varsity coach for three seasons. “We want to be competitive in all our games and show improvement from the beginning of the season to the end. With each game, we hope to build consistency, teamwork and communication as we work to prepare for the playoffs.”