By Tim Wester

With a roster full of experienced upperclassmen, the Union Grove girls volleyball team looks to climb up the Southern Lakes Conference ladder this fall.

“We had our scrimmage last weekend and looked pretty good,” Union Grove coach Annie Sireno said.

“We should be pretty good this year with seven seniors providing leadership. Four of our seven seniors have been playing varsity volleyball since their freshman years.”

The team of seasoned veterans, meanwhile, figures to improve from its 30-13 record last season, which ended with a WIAA Division 1 regional final loss to Oregon.

“This is the most experienced team that we’ve had since my first year as coach,” Sireno said.

“Our successes from last year should carry over,” she said, adding the team has just three newcomers this season.

Senior setter Karlee Lois, who surpassed the 1,000-dig threshold last season, leads the way for the Broncos.

Outside hitter Olivia Dir returns to take the lead as an outside hitter, while Bailey Berger is finally healthy after a long recovery from a torn ACL last year.

Senior Rylee Dual and Lainy Pettit will anchor the middle.

“Lainey improved a lot in the offseason and has improved her leadership,” Sireno said. “She grew a lot in the offseason.”

Veteran Kelsey Henderson returns at libero.

Makayla Moffatt and Bella Kasuboski will also see time on the back line.

New to the team is freshman Sydney Ludvigsen, who could slide into the right-side hitter position.

The veteran Broncos got a first taste of competition last weekend in a scrimmage with Elkhorn and Whitewater.

“We had a chance at our scrimmage to give everyone plenty of playing time,” Sireno said. “We were also able to try some different things.”

The improved Broncos figure to be a contender in a challenging Southern Lakes Conference that has the likes of defending state champion Burlington.

“We should be a top competitor in the Lakes,” Sireno said. “Burlington, Westosha Central, and Waterford will all be very competitive, but I think we can compete with those teams.”