LAINGSBURG — The good news for Corunna opponents is Elizabeth Norris is not the team’s primary hitter.
But there’s bad news on two fronts: Norris is the team’s setter and she’s been replaced by freshman Neele’ge’ Sims, who along with Ellie Toney should provide a formidable 1-2 punch on the front line the next three seasons.
The Cavaliers won all three matches in Monday’s Laingsburg Quad, beating Fowlerville 25-19, 25-18; host Laingsburg 25-17 and 26-24, and Perry 25-17, 25-5.
“It feels really good,” Norris said. “We’ve got a lot of new talent this year, and I’m looking forward to it.”
“We were looking to find our organization and our rotations and things like that,” Corunna coach Kari Carnell said. “It’s the first time we’ve played this season, so it’s figuring out who’s next to us and what they’re going to do, tendencies and things like that.”
Fowlerville went 2-1 on the night, Laingsburg was 1-2 and Perry was 0-3.
Ramblers coach Sarah Stevens was still upbeat about the night.
“We got a slow start, but by the end of the night we did really well working together and making sure we were putting everything together from practice,” she said. “We had a tournament (on the Ramblers’ home floor) last weekend and we came in tonight without any practices or reflection time since then. I’m excited to take what we learned tonight and practice and learn from it.”
Stevens is in her first year at Perry, while J.J. Streiff coached his first game for the Wolfpack on Monday night.
“I thought we did quite well,” he said. “I thought the girls battled really well, even in their losses. We never got whopped. We just stayed tough. We only lost by a couple of points here and there.”
Indeed, the Wolfpack nearly got a split against Corunna, taking an eight-point lead at one point before the Cavaliers rallied to win 26-24.
Streiff has emphasized fun with his team this season, and although the Wolfpack also lost to perennial power Fowlerville, senior Grace Koenig, for one, remained positive.
“I’m so excited for what the season will hold for us,” she said. “We’ve always played together, but it’s so fun to come back together. You’re just like playing with your friends. We’ve been playing together since the third grade, but we feel like we’re young again.”
Streiff is Laingsburg’s third coach in as many seasons. Longtime coach Tennille Whitmore left to coach at Haslett after taking the Wolfpack to the state finals in 2017. Michelle Emmer coached the team last year.
“Switching to a new coach has been a challenge,” Koenig said. “But I feel we’ve adjusted well as a team.”
The Cavaliers did some adjusting in the offseason. Norris, who set the school record for kills last season, replaced Lexi Mort at setter — but also showed no rust when she was called upon to hit the ball, recording 12 kills to go with 44 assists and four blocks.
That made room for Sims, who had 16 kills and a pair of blocks.
“She’s doing a great job,” Norris said.
Toney had team highs in kills (19) and digs (17) while adding 14 assists.
Stevens, meanwhile, was upbeat even when talking about the Cavaliers, who dominated the Ramblers in their second game.
“I think it was a really good learning experience,” she said. “It was tough on the scoreboard, yeah, but I think we learned a lot.”
The Ramblers are off until Sept. 3, when they take on Burton Bendle and LakeVille at Bendle.
“I’m excited to go back (today), debrief and then take what we need to do and grow from there,” Stevens said.