Wauseon volleyball still has some production back from the 2021 squad that finished with a 17-7 record in head coach Nik Encalado’s first year at the helm. This season they return six letter winners and add four newcomers.
The Indians’ most notable returnee is Jazmine Barajas, a honorable mention All-Northwest Ohio Athletic League performer a season ago.
Other returning letter winners include Hayley Meyer (159 kills, 43 blocks), Jocelynne St. John-Fisher (68 kills, 41 blocks), Johanna Tester (58 kills, 38 blocks), Ella Hageman (30 aces) and Addy Case.
Newcomers added will be Jaley Lowe, Ava Kovar, Bell Knapp and Bella McGuire.
“This season we will look to rely heavily on our defense and serve-receive early on as they are very experienced and working together very well,” Coach Encalado said on strengths for the season. “Jazmine Barajas is looking very strong this season leading the back row next to Ava Kovar and Ella Hageman. Newcomer Bella McGuire has stepped in and shown some very promising things competing with the older girls. We will look to utilize our size at the net returning Hayley Meyer, 6-0 with 43 blocks last season; Jocelynne St. John-Fisher, 6-2 with 41 blocks last season; and sophomore Johanna Tester, 5-10 with 38 blocks last season.”
However, the Indians are losing Cameron Estep (first team All-NWOAL/District 7), Aaliyah Glover (second team all-league, honorable mention District 7), Marisa Seiler (first team all-league specialist, honorable mention District 7), Autumn Pelok, Mckayla Kebschull, Selena Mullins and Kaylyn Demoulin.
“Our weakness for this season will be getting our offense up to speed early on,” explained Encalado. “Obviously losing one of the top hitters in the league last season in Cameron Estep with 400+ kills and Marisa Seiler who had 700+ assists is a big loss to our offense. Adjusting to new sets early on will be our main focus. However, returning the rest of our hitters this season will give us the opportunity to have a very well-balanced offense.”
Overall, the second-year coach likes what he has to work with.
“With Jazmine Barajas leading our defense, she averaged 4+ digs per set last season, and has worked to develop a lot of different aspects of her game over the last seven months. She wants to be the hardest working girl in every gym she steps in and should compete at a high level this season for our team. Hayley Meyer will be tasked with a heavier workload this season but we are confident in her ability to emerge as a strong offensive option. Johanna Tester will be just a sophomore this season and last season was one of our stronger blockers at the net as a freshman. She has spent her off-season really improving her swing and will serve as another strong offensive option for us. As I mentioned before we have a lot of returning players beyond those three that are huge parts of our team in St. John-Fisher, Hageman, and Addy Case. We also have a lot of young talent that is putting in the work this summer to be ready to step in and help where needed. Overall our goal is to get better everyday and do the little things right. If we can focus on the things we can control and do all the little things right we will compete throughout the season,” he said.
Encalado views the NWOAL as being difficult once again.
“I look for the league to be very competitive from top to bottom. We have a lot of returning players and some promising young girls ready to step in where needed,” he said. “I think on any night we play a league team we need to come ready to play. Kyle over at Swanton has a good program and he will be returning a lot of players this season so I look for them to be very competitive. We finished second in the league last season behind Archbold so you can not count them out going into the season. Our goal as we get towards the end of the season is to be toward the top again competing for a league championship.”
Wauseon welcomes Maumee on Saturday to open the regular season.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.