High School Sports

Unlike last year, Belleville East looks for injury-free volleyball season

Belleville East Volleyball

After suffering a number of serious injuries to players on the 2018 team, the Belleville East Lancers are hoping to stay healthy in 2019.
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After suffering a number of serious injuries to players on the 2018 team, the Belleville East Lancers are hoping to stay healthy in 2019.

Stefanie Gaubatz has been the head volleyball coach at Belleville East for just four years, but she’s already had a wide variety of Lancers teams in her short tenure.

Gaubatz has coached winning teams and losing teams and maybe one that has either underachieved or overachieved. But Gaubatz had never been associated with a team that had more injuries than the 2018 Lancers.

“I feel like last year didn’t go as we planned. We had so many injuries that sidelined our kids, and they weren’t just sprained ankles,’’ Gaubatz said. “We had our libero with a stress fracture play about a month then miss the rest of the season and then we had another libero with a knee injury miss the season We had a girl tear her ACL the second game then was out for the year and we had two or three girls sustain concussions and miss two or three weeks.

“It was just one injury after another. Very rarely did we have the same lineup two games in a row. So our main goal this season is that every stays healthy.’’

Entering the 2019 season with a new pain-free outlook, the Lancers return several players from a team which finished 15-20 a year ago. East opens its season on Aug. 28 at Gibault.

Gaubatz, who has been at East for 13 years, opened her fifth season as head coach with a veteran team which includes only one sophomore.

Leading the Lancers offense will be senior setters Rachel Mitts (124 kills, 424 assists) and Alex Werner (124 assists). Two experienced players, Mitts and Werner will be distributing the ball to a host of juniors, all of which will play key roles this fall as East looks to compete on a nightly basis in the Southwestern Conference.

Hannah Mueth, who missed most of the 2018 season with a knee injury, headlines the Lancers group of junior hitters which includes Peytyn West, Dorothea Mueller, Kiley Schanuel and Cami Augustine.

Augustine led that group a year ago with 175 kills.

“We also have sophomore Kylee Crowder, who is a fantastic softball player and just a tremendous athlete, who will also play a huge role for us in the middle,’’ Gaubatz said. “We have some options and I think you’ll see Augustine and Mueller as out outsides (hitters) with Hanna and Kylee in the middle.

“We do have experienced players coming back and that should help. These kids have all been through this before. They have had some success and success with their club teams. I really like what I see so far.’’

What is new in the SWC is that teams will be playing each other in a home and home series for the first time Gaubatz thinks O’Fallonn should be the team to beat

“Edwardsville will also be very good. I know O’Fallon lost a lot, but the have such a strong program and I think their freshman team was something like 28-0 last year,’’ Gaubatz said. “I think we’ll be better. We have to stay healthy but if we do, I think we’ll be able to stay in every match.

“I’m hoping that our experience will help us win a few more of the close ones this year.”

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