from today's Waukesha Freeman -
Crusaders have offense all over
New coaches inherit talented team
WAUKESHA — Offense will be all over the place with many hands touching the ball.
The Catholic Memorial High School boys volleyball team has a roster full of hitters, and they can put the ball down at the net and from the back row.
“I really think we are going to be really balanced,” said Memorial co-coach Dan Chipman, who is in his first year coaching the Crusaders along with Brad Mikulice. “I think our offense will be mixed around, and between different matches there will be different guys leading us in kills every game.”
Seniors Danny Brozynski and Patrick Vandendriessche will be the team’s top outside hitters. Vandendriessche has some height at the net at 6-foot-4, while Brozynski stands at 6-0. Despite the contrasting height, they both have a similar strength when putting down a kill.
“Both run quicker balls,” Chipman said. “They both have good vertical leaps and they can hit the ball fast before the defense even knows the ball is going to them. A lot of the times, teams run high outside balls.”
The two second-team All-Classic 8 Conference performers are also good hitters from the back row. Chipman said Brozynski and Vandendressche are so good from the back row that the Crusaders might even run set plays for them in the back. Chipman likes the back row attacks because usually there’s only one blocker. He said it’s also a good way to change things up if the team is struggling at the net.
Senior Aaron Siehr (6-3) will protect the net at middle hitter. He is a returning first-team all-conference player. Chipman said Siehr’s best attribute for the team is leadership.
“I mean, he gets better every day, but at the same time it’s more about what he does for the other guys,” Chipman said. “He’s always talking it up and teaching the other middles and talking with the setters. We have new setters, so he’s really been talking with them to get their timing down.”
The hitters have to make up for some key graduation losses: Chandler North was the conference Player of the Year, and Jon Rymer received honorable mention all-state.
But those vacancies make way for the tallest player on the team to see some playing. Senior Grant Dakovich stands 6-5 and was the team’s third middle hitter last year. He will see a lot more playing time this season.
“When I talked to the coaches from last year, they said he was the most improved player,” Chipman said. “I saw him last year playing club and he’s gotten way better from last year. He came in as a raw player, but now his blocking is good and his timing of his runs are great.”
Sophomores Zach Engsberg and Ryan Brown also add depth as young hitters with potential.
Senior Nick Potrzebowski, junior Peter Aspenson and sophomore Andrew Diedrich are vying for starting spots as the Crusaders will run a 6-2 formation this season. Chipman said the setters this year are taller, so the team will still have height on the court. The 5-10 Aspenson is an inch shorter than Potrzebowski and Diedrich. As the senior, Potrzebowski has more rapport with the senior hitters.
Chipman said no starting position is set, and the team is still practicing hard to earn their respective playing time.
“It helps them know that they have to work for it,” Chipman said. “There’s a guy or two behind them itching to play, and it also helps with our practices. We can scrimmage 6-on-6 easily and have even teams because we’ve got guys to fill in at every position.”
Photo: Catholic Memorial senior middle hitter Aaron Siehr was a first-team All-Classic 8 Conference pick as a junior. Freeman file photo