MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
Now is the time to turn up the defense.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Xavier is in full swing as fall sports began practice for the 2016 season earlier this week.
As summer comes to an end and school is just around the corner, the Saints are ready for the new season. Football, volleyball, cross country and girls’ swimming practices started Monday. The boys’ golf season opened Thursday with the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet in Dubuque.
This year, Xavier’s football schedule includes Linn-Mar, its first clash with a Metro Class 4A team since dropping to Class 3A. The two teams meet in Week 2.
The Saints open the season against six-time state champion Iowa City Regina on Aug. 26.
Senior Bryce Schulte will be back leading the team once again, his second full season at quarterback and third year on the varsity. Senior Maliki Wilson also will play an important role this season. Wilson was a nice addition to the team last year and helped the Saints to an unbeaten regular season. Xavier finished 9-1, losing to Decorah in the second round of the playoffs.
Head coach Duane Schulte is seeing good effort put in every day in practice.
“They’ve got good chemistry,” Schulte said. “You need that. Our goal is the same every year, to get better.”
Schulte hopes with the team’s chemistry and the seniors being leaders, everything will fall into place.
“Every rep, every play, every drill in practice and hopefully that carries into practice,” Schulte said. “Good things happen.”
Schulte’s famous quote at Xavier is “you get what you earn,” and that saying will be pushing the Saints as they get ready for 2016.
Juniors Ellie McDermott and Charlotte Richards will play huge roles in this volleyball season. McDermott and Richards both had an average of more than 10 digs a game and McDermott added an ace or two a game. Richards and senior Jessica Callahan will be captains this year.
The volleyball team’s first two meets are away, against Iowa City High and Cedar Rapids Jefferson on Aug. 23 and 30. The Saints’ first home match is Sept. 6 against Waterloo West.
Cross country lost a lot of seniors last year, but the future still looks bright. Junior John Pape went to state last year on the boys’ team and hopes to get to state again. Senior Emiko Coffey on the girls’ team hopes to bring their team to state this year, as well.
The first cross country meet is the Cedar Rapids Prairie Invitational on Aug. 27.
Swimming also started practice on Monday. Juniors Lauren Havertape and Kate McCartan have been very prominent on the Washington team and are expected to repeat again this year.