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Laker volleyball squad loaded with seniors

A year ago around this time, many of the Detroit Lakes volleyball players were being introduced to the varsity level for the first time, as sophomores and juniors.

After a year of learning the ropes and taking some bumps along the way, the Lakers return with a bevy of experienced players, along with some higher expectations.

"The girls learned what to expect on the varsity level after last year," said DL head coach Beth Leighton. "There will be no surprises on how quick the game is and they will be much better prepared.

"It's this group's time to shine."

The Lakers return six players who saw plenty of floor action in 2007. Senior setter Abby Hoganson returns after starting the majority of the season last year at that position. Almost all the hitters are back, as well as senior Dani Labine, who is the team's defensive specialist.

Senior middle hitters Morgan Lof and Alycia Heisler each had solid seasons at the net in 2007, while outside hitters, Robin Hutchinson and Emily Lindquist, both seniors, are also back.

Senior outside hitters Brianna Posch and Megan Bausman also return with experience.

"We have depth to go with our experience, as well," Leighton said.

Senior Maura Schumacher will add depth at setter, along with sophomore Rachel Shane.

The Lakers will run a 6-2 set for games, to take advantage of the team's athletic ability and quickness.

With nine seniors on the roster, leadership qualities are not lacking.

"The team has been just focused in practice and with nine seniors, the leadership has been great," Leighton said.

With good height on the front line in Lof and Heisler, defense has been a priority during the first few weeks of practice.

"We've been focusing on our blocking because we do have the height," Leighton said. "Our positioning has been better and our ability to deliver the ball to our setter, who can then get the ball to our hitters, who are solid."

The early part of the schedule is pretty rugged for the Lakers, with the opener Thursday against Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, which is coming off a third-place finish in the Class 1A state tournament last year.

DL then faces traditionally tough Perham Sept. 2, and travels to Bemidji Sept. 4, before playing in the Mound-Westonka Tournament Sept. 6.

"We could have some early bumps to start with, but we are all expecting a solid season," Leighton said. "We're setting the bar high."