RIMERSBURG — A senior-less squad coming off an 8-14 season, the Union Damsels won’t necessarily be as young as the roster looks.
Third-year head coach Allyson Kepple has 17 players on the roster, 13 of them sophomores or juniors with returning rotation players Dominika Logue, Hailey Kriebel and Maggie Minick all sophomores.
Last year, the Damsels started 6-2 before struggling to the finish. Despite the 2-12 finish to the season, it served as valuable experience moving forward.
“We did have a tough schedule and that’s what kind of got us at the end with some makeup games and stuff we weren’t able to push through to make ourselves .500 to go to playoffs, but I think it was good for us because we did have a lot of the those underclassmen,” said Kepple, whose team opens at home Friday against Commodore Perry. “Maggie, Dominika and Haley specifically got a lot of experience because of that, so I think that’s going to be so beneficial for us this year. So we’re hoping that we can tack on some more wins, especially going to the new (division), we’ll see teams that are more our size, so that should be should be good for us.”
It’s not really a re-sized move by the KSAC, but it’s a reshuffling for sure as Union moves to the KSAC-North with A-C Valley, joining North Clarion, Clarion-Limestone, Venango Catholic and Forest Area. Cranberry and Clarion moved to the South with Redbank Valley, Karns City, Keystone and Moniteau.
Logue had an outstanding freshman season, garnering the D9Sports.Com Rookie of the Year award after leading the team in scoring at 13.4 points per game to go along with 7.3 rebounds, 4.3 blocks, 3.2 steals and three assists per game. At 5-foot-10, Logue’s ball-handling abilities was a valuable asset as well.
“For her to step in that role last year, I didn’t really think she played like a freshman,” Kepple said. “She wanted the ball, which is awesome. We’re hoping to be able to put Dominika in the post a little bit more, but she’s going to play guard and still going to handle the ball. I think that’s going to be a positive thing for us this year as all five starters can handle the ball.”
Kepple said that freshman guard Kennedy Vogle will start at point guard, taking some ballhandling chores away from Logue. Kriebel (5.2 ppg.) and Minick (4.2 ppg.) will also start with sophomores Keira Croyle and Victoria Milliron vying for a starting spot, but certainly getting rotation playing time. Croyle played in three varsity games last year, her season cut short by an injury.
Also dressing varsity and looking for rotation time are junior guards Cassie Austen and Kiera Zitzman, sophomores Abigail Gruver and Mollee McCullough, and freshman Hailey Theuret. Kepple likes her depth and size actually with Gruver also at 5-10 with Logue. Kriebel is 5-8 with Davis at 5-7.
“I think right now our focus is going to be patience from what I see, because we’re young. That seems to be a downfall for us as our is our patience,” Kepple said. “So that’s going to be a thing for us but because we’re young, I think we’re going to be able to run the floor and kind of control the pace is what our what our hope is.
“In the past, our lack of size has been a struggle, but I think that our size is going to help us out a lot this year.”
And after a strong offseason of work from her roster, Kepple believes a trip back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season is doable.
“We have a goal that we want to be able to make playoffs this year. We need to get that experience,” Kepple said. “we’d like to be able to play full-court more often this year, put some pressing in. Now that we have the numbers, it makes it a little bit easier for us to do that. Just because in years past, we get in foul trouble, we wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Lacey Magagnotti and Tom Minick are on Kepple’s coaching staff.
Juniors: Cassie Austin, Missy Goodman, Paige Myers, Kiera Zitzman.
Sophomores: Kennedy Andrae, Mackenna Davis, Keira Croyle, Abigail Gruver, Hailey Kriebel, Dominika Logue, Mollee McCullough, Victoria Milliron, Maggie Minick.
Freshmen: Kennedy Vogle, Hailey Theuret, Katie Gezik, Grace Kindel
6-Commodore Perry, 6 p.m.
7-Reynolds, 6 p.m.
18-at C-L, 6:30 p.m.
27-28-Host Christmas Tournament
6-at A-C Valley
8-at Karns City
17-Redbank Valley (DH), 6 p.m.
23-Venango Catholic (DH), 7:30 p.m.
25-Mercer (DH), 3 p.m.
29-at North Clarion
4-at Forest Area, Tionesta
JV games begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. DH indicates a varsity doubleheader with the boys and the starting time listed.