Lauren Ratz

Lauren Ratz (17) is one of several seniors returning for the Aitkin Gobblers volleyball team this fall.

The secret to success for the 2021 Aitkin Gobbler volleyball team might be defense.

Coach Julie Asmus surveyed her team during a recent practice.

“We have a good crew and we have all three teams out together now as we get ready for some preseason scrimmage work,” she said. Aitkin is scheduled to open its season at Nevis Tuesday, Aug. 31.

“The girls have been working hard and although we are inexperienced at most positions, I think we will have a good season,” the coach added.

Aitkin graduated some critical seniors from last year’s team, including 1,000 career sets’ setter Aly Ehnstrom, libero Katie Pelarski and two of the team’s top hitters.

Asmus said that the seniors and experienced players the team does have will be critical to her team’s success.

“We really look to the older girls to lead the way,” Asmus said, pointing to Haylee VanSanten, Izzy Long, Melana Ryan and Rae Nyberg, along with Kayla VanSanten, Savannah Bidwell, Anna Carlson and Lauren Ratz rounding out the senior class.

“They have a big job but I think they can handle it,” Asmus said.  “We don’t have a lot of size so we will have to pick and choose our spots.

Aitkin has its first home game Sept. 2 against the Mille Lacs Raiders.

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