BELLEVILLE — Heading into the 2013 boys volleyball season, the Belleville West Maroons appear to have all the bases covered.
The Maroons have better then average size, good hitter, a solid setter in junior Trevor Juenger and a highly-touted freshman in defensive specialist Nicholas Stevenson.
So what is coach Austin Betz' biggest concern heading into the season opening Joliet West Tournament on Saturday?
Experience, or in this case, a lack of it.
"We've got a lot of young guys and guys who haven't played varsity. Even the ones who have played, haven't seen a lot of time on the floor as varsity players. We just need to get them that experience and playing at a high level,'' Betz said. "Also we're bigger then we have been in the past. But we're still going to be a little undersized compared to teams like Belleville East and Edwardsville.
"Because of that we're going to have to compensate with our defense and maybe make some adjustments to take advantage of some other things that we've got.''
Now a fifth-year program and coming off a 12-12 season, the Maroons should be more competitive this spring against perennial Southwestern Conference powers such as O'Fallon, Belleville East and Edwardsville, all of which graduated several strong players.
West will be solid on the outside where senior Cody Hobbs and junior Cade Dibadj both return. Senior Devyn Tammons was a part-time starter in the middle. Junior Brian Schield and Juenger are also getting looks as possible starters on the right side.
"Brian played a little for us last year, and he's actually been around volleyball for a while because his sisters played,'' Betz said. "Trevor (Juenger's) dad Jeff was the coach at Southwestern Illinois College and been around the game forever.
"Trevor has been with us now for three years. He's doing real well. He'll be our starting setter.''
Dibadj (6-4) and Hobbs (6-2) will be two of the go-to guys on the offensive end.
"They're both good athletes who are strong hitters and they can jump very well,'' Betz said Dibadj and Hobbs. "They are also smart players and I'm pretty confident that we can get them the ball anytime we need too.
Tammons (6-foot) begins his first season as a full-time starter in the middle, while 6-2 junior Casey Odum will also see time in the starting lineup a a middle hitter.
While the 5-11 Stevenson will make his prep debut this weekend, he has plenty of experience at the club level, and junior Vishal Patel will also be a key on defense after playing libero for the Maroons junior-varsity team last season.