The conundrum facing Montgomery County varsity volleyball coach Rachel Leu is that last year this squad won five of six Eastern Missouri Conference games.
Considering the squad had a record of 6-17-1 overall in 2016, that means the Lady Wildcats are finding all their good fortune by working in one direction, a formula for success that's still a work in progress for this program.
"We look to get some leadership from some new players this year. A big help for us will be our setter Paige Oden, junior, who has good control of the game," said Leu. "We also have a few younger hitters: outside Hailey Hill, sophomore, and freshmen middle, Renee Finke. Both girls will add good power for us, as well as strengthening our block."
Last season the up-and-down nature of this team led to a 10-game losing streak that began on Sept. 12 at Owensville and ended Oct. 4 at Calvary Lutheran. Montgomery County also fell on back-to-back nights on Aug. 22 and 24 at home to Hermann and Warrenton Christian and Sept. 1 and 6 at New Haven and Union, respectively.
"Overall, we will be well balanced this year, due to our experienced players who are returning for us, (which includes) Senior Kayla Schmidt and Junior Kristin Koch," Leu said. "Passing is our most important area of improvement, as well as communication. We are devoting a lot of time to both of these areas of our game."
The most memorable parts of the year for the Lady Wildcats came in EMO action. This includes beating North Callaway on Aug. 25 and Sept. 8 and on Aug. 30 and Oct. 11 Montgomery County defeated Bowling Green.
"The teams for us to beat will be Centralia and Wright City, although, any team in our conference has great potential and no one can be taken lightly," said Leu. "We lost six seniors last year. Our Libero, middle, two outside hitters, a setter and a defensive specialist."