When Our Redeemer's Christian School volleyball coach Sherry Carlson attached a pink rope about a foot above the net and had her team work on serving the ball between the rope and the top of the net, she provided the Knights a rare moment of offensive fun.
For the most part, preseason practices have focused on getting better defensively.
"Our hitting's always good," senior Ashley Koppinger said, "but we're trying to work on defense and bringing our defensive stuff up."
Eighth-grader Morgan Olson sets a ball during Our Redeemer’s practice on Tuesday.
Koppinger was an all-state selection a year ago and has been recruited by Minot State University and Jamestown College, among other schools. The departures of graduated starters Alyssa Tunneson and Payton Ringoen make her the team's unquestioned leader in 2012.
"Ashley will lead by example because she's very strong skills-wise and hitting," Carlson said.
Outside hitter Billie Bangen and middle hitter Emily VanLith are the two other seniors. Each should see significant playing time.
Then there's 13-year-old eighth-grader Morgan Olson. The 5-foot-6 setter started at the end of last season and is expected to be one of the six Knights on the court when ORCS begins the season Saturday against Shiloh Christian at the Hazen Invite.
She said she looks up to past ORCS stars like assistant coach Brittany Jacobsen, who was a sophomore on the Knights' 2004 state runner-up team, the only time ORCS has advanced to the state tournament. She also admires current players like Koppinger.
"I definitely look up to Ashley," Olson said. "I know I'm a setter, but I love hitting."
Carlson plans on running an offensive set that uses two setters and allows the Knights to have three hitters across the net.
"It just gives us more options," Carlson said. "Hopefully, the other team won't know where we're going with three players."