With the vast majority of its roster back from a year ago, the Wauwatosa West girls volleyball team is poised to take a step forward in 2016.
The Trojans return eight players who played in every game last season, including All State middle hitter Clare Honan and second-team All Woodland West libero/defensive specialist Ericha Stuberg.
That experience has coach Kelly Dwyer thinking Wauwatosa West can contend for its first Woodland West girls volleyball title since 2009.
"We feel like we can compete for the conference championship this year," Dwyer said. "It will be tough with Pewaukee and Greendale both returning very good teams, but if we can play aggressively and confidently, we can play with anybody."
Wauwatosa West is coming off a season in which it went 16-19 overall and 3-2 in conference to finish third in the Woodland West behind Greendale and Pewaukee. The Trojans won a regional match over Milwaukee Pulaski before falling in four sets to Nicolet in a regional final.
Honan finished with 305 kills to earn first-team All Woodland honors and was honorable mention All State as a junior. She'll again lead the Wauwatosa West attack with junior outside hitter Emily Wagy (140 kills). Junior middle hitter Hailey Wilson, junior setter Emma Elliott and junior setter Kelly Rampolla will also play significant roles in the Trojans attack. Senior opposite hitter Mia Zovic also returns for the Trojans.
"Clare will be our offensive leader and will add to her school record for blocks," Dwyer said. "Emily Wagy with a year of experience under her belt is looking to make a name for herself in the Woodland Conference."
Senior defensive specialist Anna Baish, Stuberg, and junior libero/defensive specialist Margaret Radske will lead Wauwatosa East's defense.
"Our main strength will be our defense," Dwyer said. "We should be able to run our offense off of that. One thing we need to improve on is putting the ball down on a more consistent basis. We need that second go-to player to set up."
Junior outside hitter Breanna Weigman, junior defensive specialist Katie Byers, sophomore defensive specialist/setter Sarah Kenwood, freshman outside hitter Breyonna Jackson and freshman opposite/outside hitter Erica Klatt are newcomers to the roster.
The Trojans are scheduled to open their season at the Milwaukee Lutheran Invitational on Aug. 27. Wauwatosa West's first home match will be Sept. 1 against New Berlin West.