So far, a year older has equated with a year better for the Dyersville Beckman volleyball team.
With most of the key weapons back after a state-tournament run last season, the Blazers have hit the ground running. Sprinting, actually.
And the result is a dominating 8-0 start.
“We have four of our top five hitters back, plus our setter,” Beckman Coach Todd Troutman said. “The only really new hitter is our middle, and Paige (McDermott) has been equal to the task.”
The Blazers couldn’t be much more balanced offensively. Heather Boeckenstedt leads the way with 2.83 kills per set, followed by Isabelle Bennett (2.61), Ellie Bildstein (2.33) and Caroline Kluesner (2.22). All have kill efficiencies above .250, and all are seniors.
“I figured coming in that balance was going to be our strengths,” Troutman said. “It’s tough to key on one or two people, and that’s reflected in our stats.”
Setter Sydney Steffen averages 9.17 assists per set. She’s a senior, too.
Ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, Beckman has been a wrecking crew from the start of the season. The Blazers have won all 18 of their sets, and only one — the third of a sweep of 4A No. 4 Independence on opening night — has been competitive.
Troutman is in the second year of his second stint with the program (the first was from 1986 through 2005, which featured four state-tournament appearances), and the Blazers’ next win will be the 500th of his career. He owns a 499-171 ledger.
Beckman will compete in the Shirley Ryan Invitational at Mount Vernon on Saturday. The stacked 12-team field features eight teams listed in the preseason rankings.
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The Blazers are down a class after reaching the state tournament in 3A last year; they lost a four-setter in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Waterloo Columbus.
Generally, a move down would be reason for celebration. Not so in this case: 2A contains perennial powers Dike-New Hartford and Western Christian.
“There are good teams out there in every class,” Troutman said. “If we want to achieve our goals, we’ve got to beat good people. Whoever we end up with, our regular season is going to have us prepared.”
Warm welcome to the MVC
Mississippi Valley Conference newcomers Iowa City Liberty and Western Dubuque made an immediate impact in their new home, picking up divisional victories Tuesday.
Liberty (5-1 overall, 1-0 Valley Division) claimed a four-set triumph at Iowa City West behind LeeAnn Potter’s 14 kills. The Lightning dropped the first set 28-26, then won the next three, 25-21, 25-15 and 25-22.
Many of the Liberty players started their careers at West, and Lightning Coach Randy Dolson coached three years at West (he was 78-39 there) before taking the reins at Liberty when the school opened in 2017.
Western Dubuque (1-3, 1-0 Mississippi Division), which moved to the MVC from the Wamac Conference this year, swept Dubuque Senior, 25-18, 25-13, 25-14.
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