Last October, Waverly-Shell Rock was stunned by Gilbert during a three-set sweep in the Class 4A, Region 5 Finals.
The Go-Hawks watched visitors celebrate a trip to the 4A State Tournament on their grounds. A season full of so many positives ended abruptly within hours that night.
Fast forward to 2021, and the Go-Hawks are hungry to avenge that fateful playoff loss and write a new chapter. They have the talent to do it.
After posting a 38-9 overall record, including a perfect 12-0 inside the Northeast Iowa Conference, the Go-Hawks dismiss all six starters from last season, and they have a deep bench. with a lot of experience.
Among the ghosts are seniors Annika Behrends, Ashli Harn, Sophie Sedgwick and Avery Beckett, and juniors Ellie Thompson, Brooke Willis, Elizabeth Frerichs and Paige Hendricks.
Behrends, a first team NEIC all-star and libero a year ago, led 4A with 510 digs in his junior season. Harn, an outside hitter / defensive specialist, was second at the club with 41 ace serves and had a 95.2% serve efficiency. Sedgwick, a passer and all-NEIC first-team selection last season, led the state with 1,012 assists. Beckett, a powerful outside hitter / defensive specialist and also an all-conference selection last year, led the state with 561 kills. Thompson, a middle hitter, had 44 blocks and 105 kills last season. Willis, a right side hitter, finished with 85 kills and 21 blocks.
Longtime Go-Hawks coach EaVon Woodin enjoys the overall experience and athleticism of his team, but “we have to keep improving and focusing on every set”.
Woodin is entering his 33rd season at the helm of the program and holds an all-time record of 1153-310. She will be assisted by Bethany Rewerts, Abbi Grapp and Taylor Biennemann.
Newcomers Averi Weichers, Katelyn Eggena, Ava Kramer and Makayla Wordes will also add more depth on the bench for W-SR.
Woodin wants his team to launch a faster attack with multiple ways to attack from any position on the pitch. It does this by emphasizing more consistent and precise passes and digs.
The Go-Hawks, who are ranked No.2 in 4A in the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union preseason standings, will be chased by Charles City, Decorah and New Hampton in the conference.
But the Go-Hawks are aiming to win more than the NEIC this fall.
“(We want to) win the regional championship and go to a state and have a chance to be state champions,” Woodin said.