By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – The three seniors on the Clear Creek Amana volleyball team have been to the big stage.
Lauren Helle, Sheyanne Koethe and McKenna McCreedy were sophomores two seasons ago when the Clippers snapped a 14-year state tournament drought.
That group has seen up close the bright lights of the state tournament.
Now it’s all about getting back in their final season.
“That is their motivator,” third-year Clear Creek Amana coach Jackie Clubb said of the state tournament. “That is why their level of dedication is so high because they got that taste, they know what it’s like, they know what it takes to compete at a high level and that experience is something that they want to get back.”
Clubb directed Clear Creek Amana to the state tournament for the first time since 1999 in her first season leading the program in 2014.
Koethe, Helle and McCreedy all got a taste of the state tournament atmosphere as key contributors on the 2014 squad that fell to state champion Harlan in the Class 4A semifinals.
Clear Creek Amana Seniors McKenna McCreedy, Lauren Helle and Sheyanne Koethe. Following a 23-16 season that ended in the regional semifinals a year ago the senior trio has its sights set on a return to the state’s biggest stage.
“I do think we are still motivated by getting to state,” Helle said. “We have definitely grown. We do have a young team and even though we have had great players that are gone now I think we are still motivated to be better than we have been in the past.”
Helle, McCreedy and Koethe will be key if Clear Creek Amana is to duplicate its success of the past two seasons and return to U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids.
Clear Creek Amana must replace its top three hitters from last season, a group that accounted for 702 of the Clippers’ 888 kills.
A breakthrough season from the 6-foot-1 Helle would help soften the blow of the losses up front.
Already a two-year starter Helle had 95 kills and a team-high 62 blocks from her spot in the middle last year.
“She has obviously worked really hard in the offseason, in our weight program and playing club volleyball,” Clubb said of Helle. “Getting touches when she is not in season helps in addition to having great support around her. The other players are doing the exact same thing so that keeps her motivated.”
Helle certainly will have support starting with a pair of back row players that have been regulars in the lineup for the past two seasons.
Koethe was a first-team all-conference selection last year when she led Clear Creek Amana with 444 digs.
“I think we can be very good,” Koethe said. “We have very good players in every position as long as we mesh well together and work together and be positive I think we can do very well.”
Helle and Koethe will have help.
McCreedy adds more strength and experience to the back row after finishing third on the team with 251 digs a year ago.
Koethe and McCreedy also combined for 75 ace serves a year ago with 54 coming from Koethe.
“We have grown tremendously since last year,” McCreedy said. “If we work hard and we are completely focused and dedicated to our matches I believe that we can do pretty well this season.
Junior setter Riley Hennes returns after handing out 302 assists a year ago and sophomore Shauntina Williams is expected to step into an outside hitter role after added 42 kills as a freshman.
Clubb also praised the work of the young players coming up in the system.
“There are going to be some young players but I think they are going to step up and be fine,” Clubb said. “We want to be as competitive as we can in the WAMAC and that is always a tough thing to do.”