Prep volleyball: Big ambitions for Superior Central

EBEN – After getting a taste of success in its season-opening tournament, the Superior Central volleyball team is looking for more.

The Cougars, fresh from a runner-up finish in last Saturday’s Munising Invitational, resumes Tuesday when it hosts Munising.

“We did well,” said coach Chris Bray. “It was exciting. The girls played strong all day. We’re happy with where we’re at. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but I think we’re on our way to a good season.”

The Cougars split with Gwinn 22-24, 21-19 in pool play, then fell to the Modeltowners 22-20, 21-10 in the title match at Munising.

“We held a 20-14 lead in the first set, then we kind of tensed up, started making mistakes and never got back on track,” said Bray. “Some of those were early-season mistakes, although Gwinn has a very good team.”

What can the Cougars look forward to on Tuesday?

“We saw Munising at their tournament,” said Bray. “They’re not real tall, and they’re young. But they’re scrappy. Defensively, they were all over the floor, picking up everything. They’re not a team to take lightly. They have some good servers. They’ll be a challenge.”

The Cougars have nine on their varsity roster, including six seniors.

Leading the list is third-year starter, 5-foot-10 middle hitter Vanessa Freberg. Joining her in the middle is 5-11 Brianna Emard, who did’t play last season after undergoing surgery on her leg.

“Vanessa is coming on real strong,” said Bray. “She hits very, very hard and has a very good vertical jump. Brianna has a little catching up to do, but can she block. We saw her improve immensely in the tournament.”

Providing help on the outside are second-year starter Mikayla Barrows and Teslyn Tyner.

“Mikayla has gotten very good at placing hits,” said Bray. “Now, she just needs to get her timing down. Teslyn also has a very good vertical jump and hits real well. Her strength is in her legs. She’s an all-around good athlete.”

Filling in for Emard in the back row is senior libero Rebecca Wells.

“We’re excited about being able to use a libero this year, and Rebecca is improving everyday,” said Bray.

Setters in the Cougars’ 6-2 offense are senior Brooke Pasanen and sophomore Ally Bray, both of whom will also sometimes play at outside hitter. Pasanen also missed the 2012 season following surgery on her finger.

“Brooke asked to be a setter this year, and we’re happy with where she’s at,” said Bray. “Ally played club ball for Articatz and has little bit of experience. She has a good serve and will be our primary setter.”

Superior Central’s juniors are defensive specialist/outside hitter Emilee Lintula and outside hitter Elena Torongo.

“Emilee can hit pretty well and does better in the back row,” said Bray. “She’s also a good passer and serves real well. She’s a good little utility player. Elena also plays well and is showing some potential.”

After Tuesday’s home meet, the Cougars visit Big Bay de Noc Sept. 6.