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Doubek excited about offensive potential of volleyball team

Courtesy Photo The 2020 Alpena High volleyball team includes: back row: head coach Melissa Doubek, Emilee Spomer, Kayla Haken, Tiffany Tessmer and Jade Gray; front row: Paige Timmrick, Allie DeRocher, Kate Skiba, Kami Schultz and Allie Urlaub.

The Alpena volleyball team is small but mighty this season.

The Wildcats have just nine players on their varsity squad, but it’s a team that isn’t short on experience and could end up being one of the most exciting teams coach Melissa Doubek has had in her tenure.

“We’ve got some young kids that are stepping up and we’re playing really well as a unit. We’re running some of the fastest tempo attacks that I’ve ever had in the program,” Doubek said. “These kids work really well together.”

Alpena has four returners this season and all of them make up the front row–seniors Allie DeRocher, Kate Skiba and Jade Gray and junior Kami Schultz. The quartet gives the Wildcats plenty of attacking options and can use speed to make up for what Alpena might lack in height.

“That’s exciting to see. Our three seniors are in great shape and hitting the ball hard,” Doubek said. “Kami Schultz is a junior and she’s hitting the ball really well.”

Varsity newcomers this season include junior setter Allie Urlaub, junior defensive specialists Paige Timmrick and Kayla Haken, sophomore middle blocker Tiffany Tessmer–who made the leap from the freshman team to varsity this season, and junior setter and outside hitter Emilee Spomer.

Though the season is just a few weeks old, it’s already been an admittedly different one for the Wildcats.

To deter the spread of COVID-19, the Wildcats must wear masks in and out of the gym for practices and must also wear them during games, per an executive order issued last week and the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Return to Play guidelines.

During play, only players can touch the ball. If officials or spectators touch the ball, that ball is immediately taken out of play and sanitized. Equipment has also been sanitized after practice.

Players on the bench are spaced apart.

The Wildcats weren’t required to wear masks on the floor early in the season, but they were able to get games in at a time when much of the state wasn’t allowed; an opportunity that Doubek has been thankful for.

“It’s weird, but we have the opportunity to get together and get them functioning (in a) semi-normal environment,” Doubek said. “We’re all day by day in education and business. That’s the world we’re in and we have to prepare for it.”

The safety measures, especially those enacted early in the summer, allowed the Wildcats to focus solely on conditioning drills and it seems to be paying off early in the season as Doubek said her team has good endurance and is in great shape.

The Wildcats have gotten off to an 8-1 start this season and regardless of how the rest of the year plays out, Doubek is happy her team, led by the seniors, is continuing to work hard.

“Our seniors are pretty experienced and they love playing,” Doubek said. “One thing I’ve noticed in practice is that we work hard every single day. They push us to work hard.”

Alpena will be kept busy in the coming weeks against a challenging slate of Big North Conference opponents and is also scheduled to play in several weekend quads.

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