Maquoketa Valley’s 2019 varsity volleyball team: front from left, Grace Wegmann, Allison Knipper and Shelby March; second row, Krista Ries, Kailyn Hogan, Ella Imler, Payton Beaman and Kylie Chesnut; third row, Taya Tucker, Lydia Helle, head coach Brandy Wittenbaugh, assistant coaches Morgan Manternach and Melissa Dutra, Emerson Wittenbaugh and Carissa Sabers.

With two all-conference players returning, as well as four other letterwinners, the Maquoketa Valley volleyball team is looking to improve its fourth-place Tri-Rivers Conference-finish of 2018.

The all-conference players are Emerson Whittenbaugh (also all-district) and Ella Imler, both juniors. Senior Lydia Helle is a returning starter as well. The other letterwinners include juniors Taya Tucker and Payton Beaman and senior Ali Knipper.

Coach Brandy Whittenbaugh added the name of sophomore setter Carissa Sabers to her promising newcomers list, as she enters her third year at the helm.

“This team lost a lot of key starters from last year,” said coach Whittenbaugh, “but the group coming back has played together and knows each other very well from prior years. They are a close-knit group and, although we have lost powerful hitters, this team is very athletic and will make hustle plays. We have really good leaders in this group.”

Coach Whittenbaugh feels the conference race is “up for grabs as I feel there is a lot of talent coming back but most teams lost a lot of experience from last year. I look for Ed-Co and East Buc to be strong and Springville will also be a tough one to beat.”