By Rob Kiser
When Julia Brandewie took over as Edison State volleyball coach last year after two years as an assistant, she had a plan in place.
And after guiding a team that was 12-16 two years ago to a 20-8 record last season, that plan has come to fruition this year with an 8-0 start heading into Saturday’s match with Clark State.
That includes a win over 15th ranked Mott and has the Lady Chargers in the top 25 in the most recent NJCAA D-II poll.
“To be honest we didn’t even know Mott was ranked at the time,” Brandewie said about the team Edison beat in four sets in the Owens tournament last weekend. “I saw Whitney (Pleiman) was named Player of the Week (in the OCCAC) and I rBread the press release about us beating a team ranked 15th.”
Brandewie said her second year has not necessarily been any easier.
“Recruiting is a big thing,” she said. “I was able to recruit a talented group of girls. And I know what I want to do. But, I wouldn’t say it is easier.”
The sophomore group includes 5-7 setter Noel Ufferman (Marysville), 5-6 defensive specialist Camille Odle (Lehman Catholic), 5-10 outside hitter Reagan Morrett (Miami East), 5-10 middle/right side Miranda Hickey (Jackson Center) and 5-8 outside hitter Vanessa Winner (Jackson Center).
Like Whitney Pleiman, Ufferman has already been named an OCCAC Player of the Week. Not only is she a setter, she can block and hit as well being a strong defenders, leading the Lady Chargers in attack percentage.
“We had a good year last year,” Ufferman said. “We lost some really talented players, but we have five really solid players coming back and I knew we had some talented players coming in. I was really excited about the season after seeing the team we had.”
The freshman include 5-4 libero Whitney Pleiman (Russia), 5-3 defensive specialist Kelsey Peters (Piqua), 5-10 setter Leah Herdman (Greenon), 5-10 rightside Navie Garber (Piqua), 5-11 middle Cali Stewart (Tippecanoe), 6-0 middle/outside Kathryn Lee (Troy Christian) and 5-9 middle/rightside Aimee Powell (Versailles).
Pleiman, who came from a very successful program at Russia, was also excited.
“I knew it was a good program and I knew we had a lot of good girls coming in,” Pleiman, who leads the defense from her libero position after setting school records at Russia, said. “After the preseason workouts, I could see we were going to be a really good team.”
And the win over Mott just validates those opinions.
“Everybody was pumped up,” Ufferman said. “Because, those were the kind of teams we lost to last year and this year we beat them.”
And, while Edison is now receiving votes in the poll, the girls are not getting caught up in that.
“That is great, but that is not really what matters,” Pleiman said. “We just work really well together and have a lot of fun. This game is so much mental. Working together and having fun is what it is really about.”
And Brandewie has exactly what she wants with this team — balance and depth everywhere.
Morrett leads the team with 79 kills, while Hickey has 75 and Winner has 59.
Hickey leads the team with 63 blocks, while Powell has 55 and Ufferman leads the team with a 37 percent attack percentage.
Odle paces the team with 11 aces, while Pleiman has served eight and Ufferman has served seven.
Pleiman leads the defense with 222 digs, while Winner has 128 and Ufferman adds 111.
“We don’t rely on any one person,” Brandewie said. “We have 12 girls and they all contribute.”
As for the rest of the season, the players and Brandewie are thinking big.
“I always have big expectations,” Brandewie said. “So, the 8-0 start hasn’t changed anything.”
It just validates that the plan Brandewie put in place is coming to fruition.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.