by ALLISON MUELLER
The Cotter High School girls volleyball team was all smiles Friday night after winning three sets against Hope Lutheran High School on senior and parents night.
This match was the final match of the season for both teams. Cotter, ending its season 3-9-0 in the Three Rivers Conference, swept Hope Lutheran by scores of 25-17, 25-18 and 25-16 at home.
The Ramblers lose seniors Jennifer Beranek, Kate Duellman and Kaylin Zukowski after the state tournament November 6 to November 8, but head coach Brian Mayga is confident in the program’s “feeder” system to fill the void next year by delivering Cotter fundamentally sound volleyball players.
“We’ve had issues in the past where girls come in and don’t know the basics,” Mayga said. “The coaches at St. Stans and our junior high have been working really hard the last couple years getting those fundamentals locked in.”
The three seniors will not continue to play competitive volleyball at a university, but said they have made many memories with this team over the years.
Duellman said, “Even if you’re the one encouraging the girls, it’s sometimes the best role because you’re kind of the bigger sister saying ‘go get ‘em,’ and I’ve enjoyed that a lot.”
Beranek also played the role of “the bigger sister.” After tearing her shoulder muscle in the first match of the year, she was unable to play the remainder of the season.
“Ever since I was injured in the first match I realized how big of an impact the people on the bench make,” Beranek said. “Their actions and cheers really pump up the team.”
Mayga said that together Duellman and Beranek provided “as much positive reinforcement and enthusiasm as I’ve ever seen.”
Zukowski filled the role as the team’s senior captain. She said as the season comes to a close she would remember the team’s match against Lewiston-Altura.
“We all connected and flowed really well,” Kukowski said. “We played one of our best games.”
Next year Zukowski plans to attend Minnesota State University-Mankato to major in psychology, Beranek will attend Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., to study pre-med, while Duellman plans to go into education.
Along with three seniors Cotter also has two All-Conference nominees on its team — junior setter Beth Parlin and junior outside hitter Mikala Nelton.
On the other side of the court, Hope Lutheran will be losing seniors Rachel Burfeind and Catie Stoltman. Senior night was held October 13 against Lanesboro.
Burfeind said she will miss being on a team as she moves forward in fashion design or as a pastry chef.
“While being on a team together you have a bunch of other sisters for about three months,” Burfeind said. “I’ll miss all of the friends I’ve made.”
First-year head coach Tammy O’Laughlin views this year as “a building year” as Hope Lutheran posted two wins this season.
“We’re mostly playing with ninth and tenth graders on varsity right now,” O’Laughlin said. “I’m looking forward to the next few years as they become stronger juniors and seniors.”
Hope Lutheran’s season came to an end Monday after it fell to Rushford-Peterson 3-0 in the sub finals of the Section 1A Tournament.
Cotter will face Saint Charles, who defeated the Ramblers 3-0 in the first match of the season, Thursday, October 23 at 7 p.m. for the sub finals of the Section 1AA Tournament.