PREBLE COUNTY — There are high expectations for the county’s volleyball teams this fall as the season gets underway in full force this week.
Team first mentality for EHS
Eaton returns all but one players from last year’s team. The Eagles will feature seven seniors this year, including three-all league performers.
Coach’s name: Parker Fields, 5th season at EHS, 9th overall
Last season’s record: 10-13, 5-7
“I think our main focus as a team, right now, should be to continue to put our team first. We expect to stay mentally tough and enthusiastic. When this group plays loose with enthusiasm, we are tough to beat. Maintaining that high level of intensity is going to be a huge focus for us,” Fields said. “We expect, with all of our experience, to be competing for a league title. I also do not think a run in the tournament is out of the question for this group.”
Annika Gels, Sr. Libero, All-League, All District — “Strong defensive leader in the back, effort is second to none. Natural leader. Annika will be the leading returning digger in our league, and expect that we will have to shuffle her around in the back because teams tend to try to avoid her,” Field said.
Becca Mowen, Sr. OH/RS, All-League, All District — “Offers a viable option at either pin when she is on the court. Her shot making and consistency has improved dramatically. Natural Leader. Becca wants to win, and she will do anything asked of her when it comes to helping the team,” Fields said.
Maley Tinstman, Sr. S, All-League — “Maley is beginning to take control of the offense. Her decision making and her ability to generate points prom behind the service line will be an asset to the team. Maley works really hard on her game, and puts in a lot of time in the weight room, which every coach can appreciate,” Fields said.
Courtney Giffen, Sr. OH — “I fully expect for Courtney is play 6 rotations this season, and to be someone we can count on to make plays when they need to be made. she has made huge strides in her attacking and shot making. Her defense and serve receive will be invaluable to our team. She is also showing us that she can be a leader on and off of the court,” Fields said.
Shaylen Perry, Jr. M — “Shay has committed herself to the sport. She is becoming much stronger in her shot making ability, and has made great strides in being our first line of defense against the opponents attack,” Fields said.
Ava Miller, Sr. M/RS — Ava worked really hard in the off-season on her connection with our setters. As she continues to improve her ability to close her block and drive in her attacking, she will continue to be an important part of our success,” Fields said.
Kayleigh Michael, So. DS — As Kayleigh becomes more confident and vocal along the back line, she will be a kid that servers and attackers want to stay away from. She has very good passing ability, and her serve will produce a lot of points for us this season,” Fields said.
Other key players returning:
Alysa Sorrell, Sr. DS/Utility — “Alysa has the best platform in our program. She covers short balls really well from the wing defender spot. Her serve receive is typically spot on. I look for her to make an impact and to be a form of consistency for our team when she is on the court,” Fields said.
Carsyn Lammers. So. S — “I look for Carsyn to come in and help run the offense. She always betters the ball when running the offense. As her defense improves, her time on the court will improve as well. She is strong and consistent from the service line,” Fields said.
Newcomers include; Logan Unger, Sr. DS; Molly Curry, Jr. DS; Makenzi Cooper, Jr. RS; Libby Giffen, So. All Around; Kylee Pitsinger, So. M/RS
“I fully expect for us to compete for an SWBL Southwestern championship,” Fields said. “I think Bellbrook is the benchmark program right now, with their super strong senior class. I also think Brookville will start to surprise people in our league with all of their emerging sophomores. If things play out the way we expect them to, we should be right there, going down the stretch.”
Youthful Blazers looking to gain experience
Coach’s name: Joy Yeazel, 13th season
Last season’s record: 4-19 overall 0-12 CCC
Starters returning: Lexi Stiner is the only senior on the roster. “A two-year starter and 3rd year letter winner, Lexi led the team in kills and blocks as our MB in 17-18. NT will be looking to Lexi for leadership as one of the team captains and to lead our offense. We are looking for great things from Lexi in her last year as a Lady Blazer,” Yeazel said.
Junior setter Brooke Johnson is a two-year letter-winner and two-year starter returning to the Blazers. “We will look for Brooke to run our offense with her “soft” setter hands,” Yeazel said.
NT had three sophomores who earned varsity letters their freshman year: Angel Bowers, Tristan Bowers and Madison Hathaway. “Angel and Tristan Bowers who were also starters last season, will be called upon to set and to hit. Tristan was second on the team in kills (right behind Lexi) and Angel was second on the team in assists. Madison Hathaway had some big shoes to fill with the graduation of Ariel Lee and the early graduation of Risa Griffin. Risa was only a junior eligibility wise, but decided to graduate early. Madison is playing Libero and is doing a fantastic job. I’m looking for great things from these young players,” Yeazel said.
Newcomers to the NT volleyball family are junior Shelby Slade, sophomore. Jaidyn Tout and freshamn Jenna Petitt.
”Look for great things from these young ladies,” Yeazel said.
”I would like for our young ladies to compete and get better each game, if we do that, I see us in the top 1/3 of the league. I expect us to get better and better each game. We are an extremely young team. One senior, two juniors (only one was a letter winner last year), four sophomores (only two were starters) and one freshman. We also have a junior (Jenna Shelley) and twp freshmen (MyKenzie Smith and Abbi Whitesell) who will be splitting time with JV,” Yeazel said.
“This group of young ladies is really special and I think they work really well together. I expect a great attitude and improvement every game. They are a fun group who support and get excited for each other. That makes my job, much easier.”
Woodard returns to guide Arrows
Coach: Michelle Woodard, 8th season
Last season’s record: 10-12, 6-6 SWBL Buckeye
“This year our team should be pretty competitive,” Woodard said. “We were a young team last year and had lots of injuries. This year we have a pretty strong front row presence and we are looking better every day on defense. So we have some experience and we put in some time this summer so I’m hoping the results are positive.”
“We have been working hard this summer! All 10 players will be contributors.
Kaylie Campbell, senior, is a 4-year varsity player. Will play middle and setter. Campbell was a first-team all-league and all-district selection last season as a junior.
Kylie Johnson, who set for the team last year, will be playing libero.
Matti Colby returning starter will also play middle.
Megan Roell will serve as the other setter.
Returning hitter Hailee Howard will be starting this year.
Kelsie Asher was out some last year due to an injury during team bonding and will play a hitting role and Jasmine King will also be returning to the hitting line up.
Kendal George will be filling a defensive position. Senior Ashlyn Elkins returns to the line up this year as a hitter and Mekayla Matthews will be filling a utility role.
Woodard sees Waynesville as the team to beat in the league.
“As for the league, I’m told Waynesville will be the team to beat. It is one of our teams goals to do that,” Woodard said. “We will have to focus on every team but since Waynesville is returning seven seniors, this may be one of our toughest challenges of the year.
League title possible for North
Coach: Melissa Wilson-Stockwell, 3rd season
Last season’s record (overall and league)? 10-12
Panthers return six seniors as they look to to challenge for Cross County Conference championship.
“I feel that we will have a very successful season. TCN has been gaining ground each season of the past 3 years and this will prove to be the season to watch,” Wilson-Stockwell said. “Although there will be good competition in the CCC we have a real shot at taking the conference this year.”
The seniors include Shyanna Baker, middle, 2-year starter; Riley Cruse, setter, second-team CCC, second-team district, three-year starter; Faith Estep, defense, outside; Jasmine McAdams, defensive specialist, 3-year starter; Abbey Rupp, setter;, Taylor Schumacher, middle, 3-year starter.
Two juniors are on the roster. Emma Hale will play strong side and Avry Shank is a defensive specialist.
Sidney Jackson, who plays all around, is the lone sophomore.
Newcomers are Allie Douglas, junior; Jaelynn Hawkins, sophomore; Annie Ferguson, sophomore; Alexis Heck, junior, to help round out the bench.
Wislon-Stockwell said the group has put in the work to be successful.
“The girls have been working so hard and really growing into themselves over the last three years. It has been both frustrating and exciting to see the struggle and find the successes. Being an alumni, I am eager to see the program progress to reaching the potential it’s had all along. I am eager to take this team far this season and they are prepared to fight to go all the way,” she said. “It has been amazing to see the progress over the last three years with this team and these girls. I want the world to know how proud I am of all of them and how thankful I am to have the opportunity to have helped them blossom. This season will truly bear the efforts of hard work, dedication and passion for the love of the game we call volleyball.”
Mowell takes the reigns at TVS
Coach’s name: Jandee Mowell, 1st season
Last season: 10-14, 5-7 CCC
Although Jandee Mowell is in her first season as the volleyball coach at Twin Valley South she is no stranger to the athletes she’ll be coaching.
“I am looking forward to my first season as head coach. I have coached all these student athletes as JV players and know their potential. This group of players have a strong desire to win, are not ones to give up easily, have been working hard to improve their skills and work together as a team,” she said.
Senior libero Sidney Mowell — four year varsity letterman, who received All-District honorable mention, as well as CCC honorable mention in the 2017 season.
Sophomore, outside hitter, Mackenzie Neal — District 15 honorable mention last season.
Other key players returning:
Junior, Claire Fergus, middle — brings energy, hustle and a good court sense.
Senior, Rylie Gearhart — quick swing, aggressive server.
Junior, Alexis Bennett, DS — team player, aggressive, quick.
Junior, Alyssa Clark — strong outside hitter.
“My hope is to finish league in the top 5. We have a fast, aggressive team and putting athletes in their best positions should be successful for us,” Mowell said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH