A different look: Wolverines going for title defense

The Dike-New Hartford volleyball team poses with a state qualifier banner after winning last Tuesday's regional final in Hudson to qualify for the 2A state tournament, beginning Wednesday. (Rob Maharry photo)

DIKE – The Dike-New Hartford volleyball team persevered through the difficult early-season practices.


The Wolverines graduated five talented seniors, including the team's setter and libero, from 2017's 50-win team that won the sixth state title in the last seven seasons for D-NH.


D-NH still had no shortage of talent, but it took time to get the Wolverines to a level where they could compete as a team at the level that got them back to the state tournament and a quarterfinal matchup with Unity Christian on Wednesday in Cedar Rapids.


"Those two-a-days at the beginning of the season were a struggle," D-NH junior Morgan Weber said. "Once we got through those, we fixed those little things and really put everything together."


Weber is one of the returning varsity regulars from last season's team, along with Amber Rickert, Carlee Dove, Sydney Lage and Jill Eilderts.


Of the teams that qualified for the 2A tourney, Rickert and Weber are both in the top five individuals in kills-per-set average with 3.55 and 3.40 averages, respectively. Dove is one of 2A's top blockers with 82 stuffs, with Lage adding 42 total blocks. Weber and Rickert also combine for six digs per set.


The Wolverines' traditionally difficult schedule have D-NH entering the state tournament at a deceptive 35-12, with plenty of wins against large-school competition and wins against four of the teams that qualified for the state tournament this season, including defending 1A champion Janesville.


"I feel like we're definitely starting to connect better," Rickert said. "Confidence and communication really helps with that."


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