PREBLE COUNTY — County volleyball teams have been gearing up for the season and expectations are running high for this season.
Perry to lead Eagles
With the loss of seven seniors from last season’s 19-5 team, Eaton will look to senior Shay Perry to fill the role of team leader. The first-team all-league and all-district selection will be relied on to mentor a young squad that is athletic and talented.
“I think that as we continue to improve and work on our communication and cohesion, we can compete for a league championship this season. The expectation is to always win or be near the top in the standings at the end of the season,” Eaton coach Parker Fields said. “When you have a really young team, your goal is to continue to improve and get better as the season progresses, and put yourself in the conversation going down the stretch.”
In addition to Perry, junior Kylee Pitsinger also started at times last season.
Here’s a brief look at the Eagles:
•Shaylen Perry, MH Senior, 2018 1st Team All SWBL, 2018 1st Team All District, 2018 led team in Kills. “Shay is our leader and our go to player on offense. Defensively she’s becoming a better blocker and is really going to help us in that aspect,” Fields said.
•Kylee Pitsinger, MH Junior, 2018 second on team in Kills. “Kylee is one of those kids that just has a natural instinct for sports, in general. She’s atypical for the position she plays, but she uses her shot making abilities to really be an effective middle for us,” Fields said.
Other key players returning are:
•Libby Giffen, Junior OH. “We are looking for Libby to really step up and help lead this team. Libby is really smart and knows the game well. She’s really competitive and loves to play. When she plays within herself, she’s really strong for us outside,” Fields said.
•Carsyn Lammers, Junior S. “Carsyn is calm presence on our team. She has always had a knack for bettering the ball. She’s smart and really reliable and that helps when running the offense,” Fields said.
•Claire Sorrell, Junior Libero. “At Eaton, I’ve always been blessed with a Libero that was hard-nosed and tough. I think Claire fits the mold. She’s going to come in, serve tough, and get the ball where it needs to go, in order for us to run our offense. Shes a great option to put hands on the ball when our setters have to play defense. When you are looking for a kid to play this position, you want someone who can handle pressure and not over think. Claire still has work to do, but I have no doubt that she has the ability to continue to get better and lead the defense,” Fields said.
•Molly Curry, Senior DS. “Molly is competitive and she’s always looking for opportunities to get better. She provides us with an experienced passer in the back row, who will step up and be a vocal leader,” Fields said.
•Makenzi Cooper, Senior RS. “Cooper gives us an edge on the right side when it comes to her ability to read and be a consistent block against our opponents left side attack,” Fields said.
•Julianne Leasure, Senior Athlete. “Julianne is one of those Jack-of-all Trades type players. She can play any position we need her to play. We are very glad that she is back in the program,” Fields said. .
•Jenna Ditmer, Sophomore MH. “Jenna has done a great job stepping in to fill that M2 position. She does a good job of going laterally down the net to help put up a block that slows down a lot of balls. She’s been pretty effective in her attack as well. Looking forward to seeing her improvement and contribution as the season progresses,” Fields said.
•Olivia Baumann, Freshman OH. “In the preseason, Olivia has been our most consistent player. We look for her to continue to get better and be a major player for us over the next 4 seasons. I’ve been impressed with her court sense and demeanor. She’s stays calm and will make plays when we need them,” Fields said.
•Bailey Jerdon, Freshman S/RS. “Bailey is our most skilled player. Right off the jump, she has become a vocal leader and has mixed really well with our upperclassmen. She’s smart and poised. She’s a real coachable kid, and as she continues to gain experience and develop her skills, will be a great player, as she continues her volleyball career,” Fields said.
•Maddie Haynes, Sophomore OH/RS. “Maddie has great jumping ability and her skills have continued to improve. She is always positive and has a great attitude. She will do anything to help our team. As her experience grows on the court, I look for her hopefully to be a big player for us going down the stretch or in the future,” Fields said.
“I really like the athleticism of this team. We aren’t big but we have some fighters. Our kids work hard and want to win ball games. The chemistry in this team is really good. Right now, we are still in that learning phase where everyone is still figuring out their role,” Fields said. “Once we get that ironed out, we should be pretty tough heading into the tournament.
”Dedicated” Blazers could surprise
Joy Yeazel returns for her 14th season as head coach of National Trail’s volleyball team and Last season’s team finished 8-15 overall and 3-9 in the Cross County Conference.
The Blazers program features 26 players includes a freshman team for the first time in school history.
“This is an amazing group of young women who are ready to work hard and make history,” Yeazel said. “NTHS Volleyball is already making history with the first ever girls freshman team at NTHS! The NTHS Volleyball program has 26 dedicated girls who are ready to get better each practice and game. My expectation as a coach is that we do get better each match as volleyball players, teammates and people. I want this team to #makehistory.”
Brooke Johnson (senior) is a three-year starter and letter winner and Yeazel looks for her to lead the offense as a setter.
Juniors include: Angel Bowers (setter) is a 2-year letter winner and led the team in assists last year and she will also help lead the offense as our other setter. Tristan Bowers (OH) is a 2-year letter winner and led the team in kills and service aces last year. Madison Hathaway will anchor the defense as Libero, she led the team in digs last year. Jaidyn Tout (MH) is a returning starter from last years team who was third on the team in kills.
Sophomore (OH) Jenna Petitt was the only freshman starter/letter-winner last year and she is a great defensive player.
Yeazel said Shelby Slade (senior) is a utility player that the team will depend on to fill different roles.
Yeazel said she is “super excited about all our newcomers and the potential they bring to the NTHS Volleyball program.”
They include Kayleigh Michael (Junior), J’da Jackson (Soph) and Emma Slade (Soph).
“Kayleigh can play anywhere and is a very athletic volleyball player. J’da is a raw talent that is playing volleyball for the first time. Emma will be splitting time with JV, but we are looking for her to fill in front row,” Yeazel said.
Arrows to challenge for SWBL Buckeye title
Preble Shawnee returns three seniors from a 10-12 team, which finished third in the SWBL Buckeye Division last season.
“This year, we have had a lot of changes losing four seniors and POY Kaylie Campbell who will be continuing her volleyball career at Bluffton University. Our goal is to contend for league this year and we always have our eyes set on post season play,” Shawnee coach Michelle Woodard said. “The girls are working hard. And I hope to have an enjoyable season with a talented group of players. My personal goal for this team is to have a winning season.”
Returning seniors include Jasmine King, who spent the off season working hard and will return as a middle hitter. Kylie Johnson, who earned 2nd team honors as the libero, will return as libero and Megan Roell will return as a setter and see some front row action.
Also returning are Hailee Howard, who the Arrows are leaning on for offense this year. Kendel George and Kelsie Asher, who led the team in serving last season will return to the line up as well as Katie Robertson, all who spent time working on their skills in the off-season.
Sophomore Carlyn George and freshman Harlie Howard will both add their setting skills to the line up. Harlie will also play middle hitter.
“We have a very strong JV team this year and I expect many of them will join us throughout the season to round out our roster,” Woodard said.
Challenges and opportunities await TCN
Melissa Stockwell begins her fourth season as Tri-County North’s volleyball coach. The former Panther guided her team to a 6-16 record last season and a majority of the players from that team graduated.
“Having graduated most of our varsity team last year, this is a season that will be an exciting one to watch,” Stockwell said. “We have a lot of heart and some hidden talent. I see both challenges and opportunities ahead for TCN. I am always optimistic that we can achieve anything if we put in enough hard work and have the heart to back it up. This year is a good group of ladies that have a passion for the game.”
Returning for the Panthers are: Emma Hale, Senior, Outside Hitter, 3 year varsity player, 2 year starter. Honorable mention CCC, Avry Shank, Senior, Outside, Defensive Specialist, 3 year varsity player, 2 year starter, Allie Douglas, Senior, Middle, 2 year varsity player, first year starter, Sidney Jackson, Junior, Setter, Outside, 3 year varsity player, 2 year starter, Annie Ferguson, Junior, Middle, 2 year varsity player, first year starter and Jaelynn Hawkins, Junior, Setter, 2 year varsity player, first year starter.
“Winning is always awesome and obviously the desired outcome but there is more to it than that. It’s about teaching our next generations of leaders valuable life lessons and the value of teamwork. It’s about teaching them that hard work, determination and true grit will take them to amazing places in life as long as you have respect, passion and poise,” Stockwell said. “Volleyball is just the tool being used to hopefully provide a lifetime of lessons.”
South to be competitive
Twin Valley South coach Jandee Mowell believes her team can improve on its 10-13 record from last season.
With three returning seniors and three returning juniors, the Panthers should have the experience to challenge for a conference title.
Returning seniors this year are Alexis Bennet and Alyssa Clark.
“Alexis Bennett will be playing libero for us this year. She has demonstrated great leadership qualities over the summer and preseason, which gives me the confidence that she will effectively step into this leadership role,” Mowell said. “I look for Lexi to keep our team confident through the pressures of the season by continuing to demonstrate positive leadership skills. Last season Alexis was our second highest in digs and serve receive percentage (next to our senior libero). She has continued to develop in defense and passing and will be key to our team’s success this season.”
“Alyssa Clark returns as a front row player for us this season. She is building back after an injury and surgery this past winter. I look for Alyssa to help us offensively with her power behind the ball and smart play at the net,” Mowell said. “Alyssa will be a positive influence to our team with her will to win and competitive nature.”
Returning Juniors this year are Jayla Denlinger, Mackenzie Neal, and Sydney Bezich.
“Jayla Denlinger is our returning varsity setter. Jayla has put in a lot of work in the past year to improve herself and her game. She is quicker on the court, playing better defense, and communicating well with her team. I look for Jayla to continue to improve throughout the season,” Mowell said.
Returning starter, Mackenzie Neal continues to be an all around force for the team. “Mackenzie was our top points scorer last year, and has continued to demonstrate in preseason scrimmages that her aggressive serving will continue to benefit the team. I look for Mackenzie to continue with solid defense, and improve her aggressiveness at the net,” Mowell said.
“Sydney Bezich returns as a front row player for us this season. She continues to develop her skills by learning a new position this year. I look for Sydney to be an effective blocker and attacker for us,” Mowell said.
New to varsity this year are junior Shelby Gearheart and sophomores, Lauren Cole, Morgan Harrod, and Taylor Mowell.
“Shelby is the life of our team. She brings everyone up, is always positive with herself and others. The team looks for her steadiness and tenacity in play and personality. She is a consistent server, passer and digger and look forward to these skills to help move us forward in the league,” Mowell said.
“Morgan Harrod brings us much needed offense. She is effective on the net, sees the court well, and is aggressive. She is a good defender on the net as well. I look forward to Morgan continuing to improve her skills and gain confidence this year,” Mowell said.
“Lauren Cole will be solid on defense at the net for us this year. She is learning the pace of the game and has come along nicely over the preseason. She brings good vibes and positivity to our team,” Mowell said.
“Taylor Mowell will be a setter for us this season. I look for Taylor to continue to grow with setting skills and improve her ability to stay with the pace of the game. She is a smart player, works well with her teammates and is working hard to learn her hitters and improve her game,” Coach Mowell said.
“We hope that with the hustle, hard work, dedication, and talents on our team we are competitive in our league this season,” the coach said.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH