Becoming one of the top teams in the area was a tough, though satisfying, process for the Metea Valley girls basketball program.
Keeping that status will be even harder.
Metea Valley graduated only three seniors, but those players were largely responsible for turning the school from an expansion team into a formidable unit over the course of four years.
Lori Obendorf, Anna Petersen and Bria Walker led the Mustangs to their best season last winter, finishing 22-7 and advancing to the regional finals. So even though Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas returns seven players with varsity experience, she is tempering expectations.
“Hopefully the tradition that those seniors [established] is set and the new players will want to do the work to be able to keep it going,” Kalivas said. “Obviously it took us a while to get to where we wanted to be last year and replacing the players that graduated will be tough.”
Obendorf, now at Loras, and Petersen, who plays softball for Northwestern, were physical 6-2 post players who led Metea in scoring and rebounding. The Mustangs have no one taller than 5-11 this year, so Kalivas intends to change things up.
“I don’t know if either one of them is replaceable, so we’re looking to play a little more of a defensive game this year and we’re going to score by committee,” Kalivas said. “I don’t think we’re going to have a main scorer, so everyone is going to have to contribute.”
Some may contribute more than others, of course, and one of those players could be 5-8 senior guard Jenny Voytell, the lone returning starter.
“She needs to step up and become a leader,” Kalivas said. “Offensively, I think she will be one of our main scorers. She’s a kid that works hard and does whatever is asked of her, so she is very coachable. Other teams will be keying on her, so she’ll have to expand her game.”
Kellee Clay, a 5-6 senior, is another guard who is attempting to become a two-way threat.
“Kellee has worked hard in the offseason,” Kalivas said. “I think she has really improved offensively with both her shot and her ballhandling, and she’s always been a defensive threat for us.”
The other returning varsity players are 5-8 junior forward Claire Dyer, 5-7 senior guard Lexi Gaul and 5-8 senior forward Katie Lawrence. The top newcomers are 5-5 junior guard Lisa Logan, a transfer from Aurora Central Catholic, and a pair of freshmen in 5-8 guard Nikki Cast and 5-11 center Courtney Morgan, who could develop into a future star.
“She’s got a good basketball sense,” Kalivas said of Morgan. “She will need to get used to the faster speed of the game. It’s a big jump up from middle school. How soon she makes that jump will determine how much she contributes for us.”