MEAD – The Mead Raider volleyball is stepping up in class this season.

After finishing 15-12 last season while competing in Class D-2 the Raiders and veteran head coach Keshia Havelka are up to the challenge of competing in Class C-2.

“We hope to be competing late in the year even with jumping from D-2 to C-2 this season. We will be a defensive-focused team that will be able to play with everyone as long as we can limit our unforced errors,” said Havelka.

The Raiders schedule will not change much in 2019 and moving up two classes will be softened by the fact that the Raiders compete in the East Central Nebraska Conference, a conference with a number Class C-1 and C-2 teams.

Fifteen of the Raiders 24 regular season opponents in 2018 were either C-1 or C-2 teams.

“Competing in the ECNC gets us ready for the postseason. That won’t change. The teams in our conference are really good,” Havelka added. Mead narrowly missed out on qualifying for the state tournament for a second consecutive season in 2018 after falling in five sets to Cody-Kilgore in the Class D2-7 district championship match.

A veteran team will help the Raiders transition into Class C-2 in 2019.

Seniors Delaney Patocka and Abby Miller, junior Becca Halbmaier and sophomores Bri Lemke and Emily Quinn all return this season after starting on the hardwood in 2018.

“We return the majority of our starting lineup from last year year’s district runner-up,” added Havelka.

Lemke, Halbmaier, Patocka and Miller combined for 670 kills last season and Quinn returns after starting at setter her freshman season.

Patocka and Miller combined to finish with 511 digs while Lemke and Halbmaier finished with a combined 57 blocks.

The Raiders will open the season in two weeks against the Freeman Falcons on the road (Aug. 29).

The Raiders first home match will come against another conference opponent, on Sept. 3 against Johnson County Central.

Mead added Raymond Central to the regular season schedule. They will play the Mustangs on Oct. 22.

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