WNY Athletics

Season of Change For Lady Jacks Volleyball

To say it is a season of change for the North Tonawanda Lady Jacks volleyball team is, at best, an understatement.

With change there comes challenges, and the Lady Jacks are ready to clear any hurdle they will face in 2016.

As the Lady Jacks come into the new season they have just two returning players, senior Julie Milbrand and junior Lindsay Piotrowski. NT lost 11 seniors to graduation and two projected returning players opted not to return.

So with an influx of promising talent coming up from JV, Milbrand and Piotrowski know that leadership falls on their shoulders and they are more than ready and willing to take on that responsibility.

“Well obviously we lost a lot of people last year because we’re the only returners,” Piotrowski said.

“I think the JV (girls) coming up have a great mind set and they definitely want to work and get better. And everyone just gets along. I think if we just keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be fine.”

Milbrand, a pure volleyball player who plays year-round, has been on varsity since eighth grade and has always been the youngest girl on the team.

“I told her, Julie. You’re finally the oldest girl on the team!” Lady Jacks coach Jess Anderson said with a smile.

While Anderson joked about Milbrand’s rise through the ranks, the Coach has unquestioned faith in Milbrand (middle/outside) and Piotrowski (right side) to lead this young group.
Anderson said that Piotrowski honed her leadership skills during her time as the starting point guard for the Lady Jacks varsity basketball team.

Milbrand, meanwhile, has had the benefit of playing along side and watching outstanding leaders in the volleyball program and is now ready to be that girl who will show the new faces what it means to be a successful varsity student-athlete.

“She definitely came in (the first day) ready to run warms ups, do everything. Be vocal,” Anderson said.

“Great personality.”

Newcomers looking to make an impact are junior Sara Dolan (outside hitter), sophomore Chase Steingasser (middle) and a pair of junior setters in Bailey Crampton and Julia Miskines.

All four were impact players on JV. Anderson spoke glowingly of all four girls and how good they all looked out of the gate, but she stressed how hard Steingasser has worked in the off season to raise her level of play so that she could be ready to take on a bigger role this fall.

Though the girls’ are all confident in each others play and level of dedication, with so many new faces the Lady Jacks have also faced the reality that it will take time for them to find their on court rhythm.

“A lot of the girls coming out played together on JV last year and had a very successful year,” Anderson said.

“Now it’s a different level, mixing them in with two experienced varsity players it’s going to take time. Everyday we do look to get better.”

Milbrand said that girls, through volleyball and school, already have a sense of familiarity. Once they get to know each other even more off the court, it will transition to better chemistry in games. The belief seems to be that if everyone remembers that improvement is a daily process they will see the rewards of wins sooner, rather than later.

“I think these girls are amazing,” Milbrand said. “We’ve got such (fun) personalities, we just blend together. So it’s not to much that we have to get used to each other. We’re all kind of used to each other. (Now) we just have to be able to play together and talk to each other on the court.”

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