Prep volleyball: Jets looking good early on

POWERS – So far, so good for the North Central Jets.

The Jets opened their volleyball season last week, posting 3-2 victories over Mid Peninsula and Rapid River.

Through the first two meets, seniors Paige Whitens, Morgan Wells and Kennedy Faccio have emerged as the Jets’ leaders.

Whitens collected six service aces, 16 kills and four blocks in Thursday’s triumph over Rapid River. Wells added five aces, 13 kills and three blocks and Faccio finished with four aces and 37 assists.

“Morgan and Paige are our go-to girls, and Kennedy knows her spot and where to go,” said fourth-year coach Andy DeBock. “Kennedy has really become a floor leader for us.

“This year, it looks like we have things going for us. The team came out strong Thursday night. We’ve been practicing a lot on serving and this is the best serving I’ve seen here as coach. Our passing also stepped up. This is a big confidence boost for our team. In our first match, our passing didn’t always get up to the net. We were forced to hit from 10-12 feet out. We started getting closer to the net against Rapid River.”

The Jets’ remaining seniors are Skye Triest and Kelsey LaBonte.

“Both of these girls worked hard in the off-season and have stepped up this year,” said DeBock. “Skye also got her confidence level up and needs to keep it there. Everybody is responsible for keeping everybody up. Our five seniors have become leaders.”

Juniors include Kayla Arkens, Laura Gogolewski, Leah Schultz and Audra Granquist, who suffered a back injury Thursday night.

Freshman RayAnn LaFond showed promise in Tuesday’s victory over Mid Pen, but struggled at times against Rapid River.

“I think she was a little nervous on Thursday,” said DeBock. “RayAnn has good setting ability, but she’s more valuable to us at the net and in the front row.”

Next up for the Jets is tonight’s home match with Superior Central.

“I’d say Superior Central is the team to beat in the CUP (Central U.P. Conference), especially after the year they had (in 2012),” said DeBock. “Although, you have to prepare for every team. Like any sport, anything can happen on any given night.”

In the Skyline Conference, DeBock points to perennial power Forest Park as the team to beat and expects North Dickinson to field a strong team.

“Forest Park is a big volleyball school and has a real big player (Lexi Gussert),” he said. “I’ve thought about that a lot. Our girls understand what they have to do.”