Spikers ready for new season under familiar face
After a three-year hiatus, Fredericksburg High School varsity volleyball coach Jason Roemer is back in town and ready for a new season.
FHS began practices Aug. 1 and has since played two scrimmages and two tournaments with more to come.
“I like the progress we have made and we’ve been playing a lot of close matches,” Roemer said. ‘We are learning to play with each other and right now we are focusing on our improvements. The sky is the limit. We have a little bit of an underdog view but we have the potential to surprise some people.”
The team ended the 2018 season with a record of 14-18 and were fourth in District 28-4A standings under three-year head coach Kaci Rittimann.
As of press time, the team is 5-10 to start the season and faced Kerrville Tivy for the fourth time late Tuesday, Aug. 20.
The team has also notched a loss to the Texas Girls Coaches Associations third-ranked 4A team La Vernia.
FHS will see five returning seniors but only two have varsity court experience.
Seniors Jaci Spies and Megan Jinright will lead the team, while seniors Karlie Nebgen re-joins the team following injuries in the 2018 season.
Avery Stephens and Lauren Kennedy round out the senior players.
Freshmen Clara Pluennepke and Zoe Aldrich are the lone freshmen on the varsity squad.
“Clara brings some height to our line up that’s missing from our older kids right now,” Roemer said. ‘They both are able to contribute to our success and have a bright future in the program.”
Aldrich will be an outside hitter while Pluennneke will share the middle blocker position with Megan Wahrmund.
FHS’ back row will consist of Nebgen, Kennedy and junior Annie Meyers.
“Each time our consistency improves and we are getting better every day,” Roemer said.
At the conclusion of the 2018, FHS lost five seniors to graduation including: Calissa Vollmar, Molly Pluenneke, Larkin Penn, Kate Wenzel and Rose Stuewe.
Stuewe signed to play volleyball at the collegiate level for the Colorado School of Mines, an NCAA Division II program.
Pluenneke looks to join the rowing team at Duke University.
Room for improvement
Despite having a young team, Roemer is confident in his team’s ability to adjust to change and make improvements fast.
“We are learning a lot about ourselves, learning what it takes to play volleyball at the varsity level and learning what it takes to win,” Roemer said. “The beauty of our season is we play a lot of volleyball at the beginning of the season and then we see our district season start late September.”
FHS will feel the loss of Stuewe, who had nearly 500 kills.
“She had almost 500 kills and the next leading offensive player had 150,” Roemer said. “Our main weakness right now is learning how to get kills at the varsity level. Not many of our current players had the pressure of getting kills in crunch time of sets in the past.”
Back at the helm
Roemer is very familiar with the FHS program as he coached the Billies from 2001-2015 before Kaci Rittimann lead the team for three seasons.
“I am excited to continue the tradition of this program that I helped build,” he said. “My wife and I were invested in this community for 15 years and we are excited to be back in the classrooms teaching and, in the gym, coaching again.”
Roemer spent time coaching at Tivy in the 2016 and 2017 seasons and one year at Lake Dallas in 2018.
“Being in the third volleyball program in four seasons, I have experienced the building process and building new relationships quickly,” he said.
Roemer said that while he is losing players to graduation that he was once familiar with, he is eager for the opportunity to start new.
“Programs with new coaches are really at a disadvantage, teams with a turned over roster are at a disadvantage,” he said. “Essentially we are starting over in regards to positions and team chemistry.”
FHS will again compete in District 28-4A alongside Bandera, Boerne, Wimberley, Canyon Lake and Llano.
The team ended the 2018 season fourth in district standings, with a record of 5-5.
Roemer and the Billies have already faced Bandera and Boerne in tournament settings.
“We lost a close two-set match against Boerne and won a two-set match over Bandera,” he said.
Boerne boasts nine experienced seniors on their roster. Wimberley returns experience, going undefeated in district play in 2018.
Rounding out FHS’ schedule are tough teams like Tivy, who the Billies will see five times.
FHS will also face Ingram, Navarro and Devine.
“We will have our work cut out to get wins before we start our district schedule,” Roemer said.