ANNA — Like every volleyball team this time of the year, the Anna Rockets recently set their goals for the season. And the Rockets’ biggest goal is every team’s dream.
Anna reached the Division III regional semifinals last season before falling to Miami East. The Rockets, with five starters back, are shooting for state this season.
“We talked about our goals last week and we always set three goals,” Anna coach Kelli Zumberger said. “One of the things was let’s get to state. Let’s get past the regional semis. That’s a totally attainable goal for us.”
One advantage the Rockets have is a coach who knows what it takes to get there. Zumberger was a junior on Anna’s 2006 state championship team. The Rockets also reached state in 2005 and 1987.
“That would be such a great experience to have and something we could all share together,” said Zumberger, who enters her seventh season with the Rockets.
Five seniors return for the Rockets, led by Emma Meyer. Meyer led the team in kills (329), blocks (152) and was sixth in digs (103).
Senior setter Lexi Wells returns with her 828 assists. She also led Anna in aces (31), was second in blocks (72) and fourth in digs (210).
Senior libero Abby Counts was third in digs (259), while senior Sierra Williams (39 digs and 39 blocks) and senior Lindsey Barhorst (second in digs with 208) also contributed to the regional run.
“They’re a nice, athletic group and they’ve been playing together for a long time,” Zumberger said. “Just a nice group overall. They really lead our team vocally. They work hard for everything they do and they push our underclassmen to do the same thing.”
Also back are junior Macy Wiktorowski (second with digs 249, third with 46 blocks) and junior Madison Roe (fourth in kills with 71).
Lauren Barhorst missed last season with an injury and adds depth and height at 6-foot-1.
“Our offense is going to be one of our strongest points. It’s something we’ve been trying to speed up this summer with a lot of quick sets,” Zumberger said. “When these girls have been playing together for a long time it makes it easier on them and easier on their coach.”
Anna won the Shelby County Athletic League going 19-8 overall and 10-2 in the league.
Repeating is one of the Rockets’ goals. As is that hopeful run to state. Anna reached the D-III regional semifinals before falling to Miami East in straight sets.
Anna gets an early test when it opens with Versailles, the defending D-III state champions. Versailles knocked out Miami East in five sets and two matches later won state in a five-set thriller against Coldwater.
“Not that we can ever ease into our season but we’re starting off strong with Versailles. I think it’ll give us a gauge to see where we are. Every night is going to be a battle,” Zumberger said.
Four of the SCAL’s seven teams reached the regional tournament last season. Joining Anna were Fort Loramie, Russia and Jackson Center in D-IV.
“Definitely playing in our conference helps us with our tournament run,” Zumberger said. “When we go to our tournament draw we might have a decent record, but people don’t know the conference we come from is very strong.
“There’s a lot of confidence. They know the goal and they know their job on the court. There’s this relaxed feeling as if I can let them take the reins a little bit and take control of the game. They’re understanding the game and seeing the court better. … We want to get rolling. It’s preseason and we want to get playing.”