By Todd Rohde~Correspondent

The Richmond-Burton girls volleyball team enters the new season with some respect from the surrounding teams and deservingly so. That’s because the Lady Rockets have earned it through their consistent play and recent success out on the court the last couple of years.

This season looks to be promising for us since we have everyone returning as a veteran team with a ton of experience at both the varsity and Junior Olympic Club level,” stated head coach Kaycee Kaywood.

“This is a very special group of girls, as they are very dedicated to maintaining the consistency that we have seen in the preseason as they have a very strong bond with one another.”

In fact, the Lady Rockets will kind of have a target on their backs after winning consecutive Big Northern Conference championships. They went undefeated in league play with an unblemished 10-0 mark to go along with a hefty 29-8 overall mark.

Richmond did advance onto the regional finals a year ago, but unfortunately fell short to Marian Central. The Lady Rockets have plenty to be excited about, as they return the core parts to their team after not losing any starters to graduation.

They will take to the court this season with 12 girls on varsity including a handful of returning letter winners and starters. The team consists of five of both seniors and juniors to go along with a pair of sophomores. No team captains have been chosen as of yet, but will be voted on soon.

“We are going to be very strong on the pins with Ali Frantti, Kim Russell and Alex Callahan, but have also been working very hard to move the ball around and run some different things this year,” added Kaywood.

Frantti, the number one recruit this year, is a 6”1” junior who will be securing the court as an outside hitter looking to record countless kills.

A pair of seniors in Kim Russell (right-side hitter) and Callahan (outside hitter) will play pivotal roles for the Rockets as well this season. Rounding out the starting rotation for Richmond will be senior setter Kara Russell and senior  Marissa Woodward.

With the talent and experience on The Lady Rockets roster this year, they will be looking to three-peat as BNC champions again. The teams that will most likely give them the biggest fight in the conference will be the strengths of Burlington-Central and Marengo.

“We should be able to capture another conference crown again this year, but we are definitely aiming to accomplish much more especially in the postseason,” Kaywood mentioned.

                  The overall strengths for the Rockets will be that they are a veteran team with a great deal of talent and experience.  They will especially be strong and consistent with their serving and offensive hitting schemes by moving players around and being less predictable.

                  Not so much as being a weakness, but something that the Rockets will have to work on will be their blocking and overall defensive play.

                  “Our serving will be consistent and very aggressive and we will be working very hard to keep the ball in system so that our aggressive offense can take charge on the court,” Kaywood said.

                  The Rockets haven’t been on the court for that long now, as they just began practicing Aug.13. Things have been going well for the Rockets though, as they came in with some enthusiasm and have been working hard to get ready for the season.

                  Kaywood is in year fifth year now as the varsity head coach, but has been part of the program for seven years. Serving as her assistants this year will be Jenny Robison, Ashley Martin. Laura Chelcun and Mike Kamholz.  (The Richmond/Spring Grove Johnsburg Report 8/24/12)