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2012 Fall Preview: Woodbury volleyball team returns core to court for 2012 season

Woodbury senior Sara Biermaier returns to help lead the Royals volleyball team this season.

When looking at the Woodbury volleyball team at first glance, it doesn't seem like the Royals would have a problem with experience.

After coming off an 18-12 season, the squad has 12 seniors this season, but the varsity experience is lacking compared to most seasons after losing Olivia Wangensteen, Chloe Richter, Erica Johnson and Alex Benedict to graduation.

For most teams, experience can make or break the season.

Don't tell that to head coach Linda Crum.

Crum thinks that the lack of experience can be a positive.

"Sometimes you get kids that are more experienced and it can be a negative because they take things for granted," Crum said. "We want our kids to make sure they are respecting every opportunity."

The Royals will be led by an inner core of players including Sara Biermaier, Abysssinia Andualem-Emiru, Ellyn Barker and Taylor Waugh. All players are seniors and Biermaier has committed to Viterbo University on an athletic and academic scholarship already. Viterbo is a faith-based University in LaCrosse, Wis., and competes in the Midwest Collegiate Conference and at the in NAIA Division II level.

"Those players are important, but we need players in our outer layer to be confident as well," Crum said.

The "outer" layer players include seniors Lequissa Green, Laura Born, Nicolette Linscott, Malory Vague, Wakpor Ighovojah, Kelsie Verhulst, Kelsie Nowicki, Kelsey Schultze and junior Monica Johnson.

The goals for the team are about right where they always are, and that's to win the Suburban East Conference. The Royals took fourth last season, behind Cretin-Derham Hall, Mounds View and Stillwater.

With 12 losses, it might not look like Woodbury is a volleyball powerhouse, and while that might not be the case, the program has had its success over the years.

And that success comes with plenty of challenge. The 12 losses last season didn't exactly come against easy competition.

"Obviously we want to improve (on our record)," Crum said. "You can't just look at the record. We put ourselves in position to play the best teams. We want to play aggressive competition. We want to prepare for the end of the season. Winning the conference is always one of our goals, along with competing in sections."

Last season, Woodbury lost in the third round of Class AAA sections to Hill Murray.

Woodbury opens the season on Aug. 27 against Duluth East. East was 23-5-2 in 2011 and beat Woodbury in three sets to start last season.