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Howie Hanson: Broncos volleyball team won’t be a pushover in 2021

Broncos volleyball coach Sarah Peterson and her players are excited to begin the 2021 season with four straight home matches, starting with Thursday’s 7 p.m. opener against nonconference Two Harbors.

“The girls are especially looking forward to having fans back in the stands, in our gym,” said Peterson, who begins her second season with International Falls.

The Broncos will also play host to North Woods on Aug. 31, Mountain-Iron Buhl on Sept. 2 and Mesabi East on Sept. 7.

International Falls scrimmaged five teams in a preseason jamboree in Hibbing on Saturday, and Peterson came away impressed with her team’s overall effort.

“Our veteran players were great, and our younger players really stepped up from a year ago,” she said.

First-year varsity setter Kale Taylor, a freshman, was a major bright spot.

“Kale’s a natural athlete with a great work ethic,” said Peterson. “Now, it’s a matter of learning more about the hitters she’s working with.”

Senior captains Ivzy Valenzuela and Maddie Lowe and 6-foot-3 sophomore middle hitter/blocker Olivia Thoftenson – all returning starters – also stood out in the scrimmages, Peterson said.

Other Broncos standouts included senior hitters KayLynn Cronin and Bella Wilmarth, and sophomore elites Gracie Swenson, Lola Valenzuela and Karsen Korpi.

“This is a really great group of athletic girls, fun to be around, and our expectations are higher than they were in the past,” said Peterson, a former International Falls volleyball standout who starred at Augsburg College and previously coached at Littlefork for three years. “We’ll be aggressive, enthusiastic, scrappy and fun to watch. We expect to be highly competitive in the IRC (Iron Range Conference) and in the Section 7AA tournament.”

2021 BRONCOS SCHEDULE

Thursday, Aug. 26 — Two Harbors, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 31 — North Woods, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 2 — Mountain Iron-Buhl, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 7 — Mesabi East, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 11 — at Greenway Tournament, TBA

Tuesday, Sept. 14 — at Nashwauk-Keewatin, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 16 — at Virginia, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 21 — Ely, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 23 — at Littlefork-Big Falls, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 30 — at Lake of the Woods, 7 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 4 — Hibbing, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 5 — at Chisholm, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 7 — at Eveleth-Gilbert, 7 p.m.

Tuesdaay, Oct. 12 — at Northeast Range, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 14 — Deer River, 7 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 18 — Littlefork-Big Fall, 7 p.m.

Note: Broncos home matches listed in boldface.

Published in Quote Me, Howie

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