Beckman’s 2019 varsity volleyball team: front from left, Keeley Schmitt, Kiersten Schmitt, Chloe Ungs, Jada Wills and Lauren Osterhaus; second row, Haley LeGrand, Jordan Helle, Leah Wessels, Kylee Rueber and Paige McDermott; back row, Olivia Hogan, Makayla Koelker, Jadyn Welling, Nell McDermott and Ashley Engelken.

After reaching the Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament semifinals last season, the Beckman Blazers are hoping to repeat that trip this year and maybe advance a step further.

Coach Todd Troutman enters his 23rd year at the helm and will need to replace long-time setter Sydney Steffen, along with five of six starters. The lone starting returnee is senior middle hitter Paige McDermott.

McDermott will most likely be joined by transfer Jada Wills, who played at Hempstead and is a two-time Class 5A second-team all-state selection and Chloe Ungs, an outside hitter who saw some varsity action last season. Also competing for time will be seniors Mary Gallagher, Jordan Helle, defensive specialist Ashley Engelken who earned a letter last season, Rachel Herbers, Haley LeGrand and Kylie Steffensmeier, juniors Kennedy Arens, Megan Funke, Makayla Koelker, Nell McDermott, Sydnie Reitzler, Kylee Rueber, Amber Scherbring, Keeley Schmitt, Macy Sigwarth and Jadyn Welling, along with sophomores Olivia Hogan and Kiersten Schmitt.

“As always, we are looking at a very challenging schedule within the WaMaC,” added Troutman. “In the East , I would imagine West Delaware and Mount Vernon should be considered the favorites. We hope to be able to challenge those top programs and be a factor in the title race ourselves.

“Our tournament schedule will also be very challenging with tournaments at Cascade, Mount Vernon, Iowa City West, Denver and Waverly Shell-Rock, as well as the WaMaC Conference Tournament, bringing in some of the top programs in the state. We will be a very different team from last year in that we graduated six very talented seniors who led this program to back-to-back state tournaments. However, by no means do we consider this rebuilding year. We have a lot of talented athletes in the program who are looking to make a name for themselves at the state level.

“As always, our emphasis will be on improving every day and our schedule should prepare us well for post-season play which is when we want to be playing our best volleyball. I think we will remain one of the top 2A programs in the state this fall. I would consider Western Christian and Osage to be a couple of pre-season picks for top-ranked 2A teams.”