HARRIS - The Bark River-Harris Broncos volleyball team is downsizing, literally.
The Broncos are noticeably shorter at net-front after bidding farewell to graduates' Megan Derusha, Sarah Madalinski and Mariah St. John, but coach John Jorasz thinks this year's squad could be even better, despite it, pointing to the team's character.
"We have a smart team, I feel," he said. "We should do well this year. A lot of these girls want to be on the floor."
BR-H returns six seniors; Cassidy Getzloff, Savanna Stenberg, Kortney Jenshak, Mallory Petersen, Haley Clement and Sydney Victorson. Senior Aleesa Madalinski will manage the team .
The rest of the team is comprised of two juniors; Emily Johnson and Rachel Gregory, and three sophomores; CreeAnn Stenberg, Abby Anziano and Olivia Rivard. All five of those players played on the jayvee team in 2012.
The Broncos opened their season Thursday at Forest Park. Though they were beat 3-0, Jorasz liked what he saw.
The remaining schedule:
Sept. 10 - at Munising; Sept. 12 - at Big Bay de Noc; Sept. 17 - At Stephenson; Sept. 19 - Rapid River; Sept. 24 - at Superior Central; Sept. 26 - Mid Peninsula; Sept. 30 - Munising.
Oct. 1 - North Central; Oct. 3 - at Rapid River; Oct. 7 - Big Bay de Noc; Oct. 14 - Superior Central; Oct. 17 - at North Dickinson; Oct. 21 - at Mid Peninsula; Ot. 22 - Carney-Nadeau; Oct. 26 - at Menominee; Oct. 29 - North Dickinson; Oct. 31 - Forest Park.
"Though we've only played one game, I think we're playing great as a team, and the communication has been great. In the past, lack of communication has been our downfall," he said.
Getzloff, who figures to be the Broncos big outside hitter injured her ankle in the opener and will be out of action until at least Thursday. Also on the sidelines until possibly Tuesday is Jenshak, who injured her knee.
"Right away this year, we're taking on injuries," Jorasz said. "I kept the team a little bit on the lighter side (11 players) to maximize playing time, but so far its backfiring with the injuries early on.
"I'll find out how Kortney is doing on Tuesday but the players I have now are doing really well at this time. I'm not planning on pulling anyone else up. It's an opportunity for the other girls to get more playing time and more experience under their belts. For the younger players coming up to varsity, it builds up their confidence to be on the floor."
Jorasz says with Getzloff, Jenshak and Rivard, the Broncos should have a strong presence at net-front.
"I feel we're pretty well-rounded. We have a good offensive game and some good players that are stepping up," he said. "I'm hoping Cassidy will be a big outside hitter. She'll be a big asset to our offensive lineup and so will Kortney when she comes back. I'm expecting big things from her. Olivia is another one that's really stepping it up."
On defense, Jorasz has designated Stenberg as his libero and said her and Clement have shown poise on the back row.
"Savanna will be big on the back row for us. She's good at getting across the floor and getting after balls," said Jorasz. "Haley has been a vocal leader."
Carney-Nadeau is another team that doesn't have height at net-front but has had a solid start to the season. Jorasz said the Wolves are a tough opponent, having gone 1-1 against them last season, but he pointed to perennial contenders Superior Central and Rapid River as teams to beat.
"In the east, Rapid River and Superior Central will both be strong," he said. "It doesn't matter what kind of teams they have, they'll be there. Then there's North Dickinson and of course Forest Park."
Bark River-Harris resumes the season Tuesday at Munising.