EMERY — The Bridgewater-Emery volleyball team has started 2021 like a team on a mission.
A perfect 8-0 start without dropping a set has put the Huskies among the top teams in Class B once again, carrying a No. 4 ranking in the most recent polls and heading into a key weekend in which they will try to assert themselves among the state’s elite programs in Class B.
“We know we can play with the best teams in the state when we’re playing at that level too,” senior outside hitter Julia Weber said. “That’s what we need to keep working on.”
Bridgewater-Emery has seven seniors and all of them are key contributors to the team, coach Mary Ernster said. Having that experience can only help the team try to achieve its goals, she added.
“This is such a tight-knit, good group of girls that is so supportive of each other,” Ernster said. “We’ve got seven seniors and they’re all big contributors for us.”
The Huskies have qualified for the last two Class B state tournaments, including a sixth-place finish in 2020 in Class B. Weber, who was a first-team all-state selection in 2020 and was the Mitchell Republic’s volleyball player of the year, gets a lot of the opponents’ attention. That has made the emergence of Taylor Schallenkamp in the Huskies attack that much more important.
Schallenkamp, a 5-foot-10 senior outside/right-side hitter for the Huskies, has stepped forward as a key attacker alongside Weber in the Huskies’ offense. Ernster said it’s a credit to the amount of work Schallenkamp has done in the offseason to prepare for 2021.
“She’s a hard worker and really committed to the team. She’s seeing so much of that work paying off now,” Ernster said. "Teams know what Julia can do and when they have to account for Taylor, that's a huge thing for the team."
Through eight matches, Weber has tallied 117 kills, with 65 more from Schallenkamp. The team has split the setting duties between Kaitlyn Roskens and Casey Meyer, who have 129 and 120 assists, respectively. Libero Cara Meyer has a team-high 114 digs for the Huskies, who also have had Chloe Schmitt playing well as a middle hitter, plus senior Morgan Uptagrafft involved in the Huskies’ fast start.
“We’ve been playing together since we were little kids,” Schallenkamp said. “Our focus is really on playing for each other and getting as much out of this season and each other as we can, while at the same time enjoying it.”
Bridgewater-Emery will see a step up in class with Saturday’s home competition. No. 2 Warner and No. 3 Chester Area will be in the event, plus some of the traditionally strong programs in the area, including Ethan, Freeman and Hanson.
“We know we’re going to see some adversity as this season goes on, and so we’ve really tried to prepare for when things aren’t going our way and having the right response to it to allow us to have success as a team,” Ernster said.