Badgers reload for another postseason run

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Berkshire returns four starters from the squad that reached the Division III regional semifinals, finished 23-3 overall and a perfect 14-0 in claiming the Chagrin Valley Conference’s Valley Division title.

The Badgers hope to use that experience to defend their league title and to make another deep postseason run.

“With the returning experience, I look for us to do well this season,” said 15th-year head coach Joni Prots. “We have tried to make our non-conference schedule as tough as possible to help prepare for tournament time. We will have girls playing new positions this year, so that may take some time to work through those adjustments.”

Berkshire’s coaching staff underwent some changes as well.

Assistant coach Jamie Bower returns but the Badgers added former Newbury head coach Carla Richardson to coach the junior varsity and added former Cleveland State University standout Anne Mann to coach the freshman team.

“I am looking forward to having all of that experience on the bench and in the gym this season,” Prots said.

That coaching experience, coupled with five seniors projected in the starting lineup, could help the Badgers reach their goals this season.

“We need to be consistent in all aspects of the game,” Prots said. “We need to learn to play together on the court and come to play every day.”

The five seniors include setter Olivia Freiling, outside/middle hitter Madison Chapman, middle hitter/outside hitter Julia Kastor, libero Marisa Miller and middle hitter Jessica McKinney.

Freiling was named second team All-CVC after recording 798 assists (9.6 per set), 66 aces and 119 digs (1.4 per set).

“I’m looking for Olivia to be our offensive quarterback on the court,” Prots said. “She is very knowledgeable about the game and has good instincts.”

Chapman was named second team All-CVC and honorable mention all-district. She recorded 202 kills (2.4 per set), 221 digs (2.6 per set) and 21 blocks.

“Madison brings four years of varsity experience to the team,” Prots said. “We are looking for her to step up as a leader this season. Madison can swing from many different positions and that versatility will be very important to the team.”

Kastor record 74 kills, 16 blocks and 56 digs last fall.

“Julia is expected to play a bigger role in our offense this season,” Prots said. “She can play in the middle and on the outside, which allows us to move players around as needed. Julia is a smart player and is one of our leaders on the court.”

McKinney is returning from an injury and Miller will slide into the libero role.
“Jessica is coming back after an ACL injury last season. We look for her to contribute to our blocking this season and be another leader on and off the court,” Prots said. “Marisa will be our libero this season. We are looking for consistent serve reception from her and lots of touches on defense.”

Sophomore outside hitter Delaney Tucek will move to outside hitter after playing libero as a freshman. She recorded 197 digs (2.8 per set) and 45 aces last fall.

“We are looking for her to add to our offense,” Prots said. “Delaney has a lot of volleyball experience and we look for her to be a leader on the court defensively and offensively.”

Senior Madelyn Carver, juniors Kayla Dingman, Erin Miller, and Jilly Kumher, and sophomores Mollee Chapman and Lauren Lappert also are expected to contribute for the Badgers.

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The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.