GRATIS — There is a long-standing tradition of winning for the Preble Shawnee volleyball program, and the Lady Arrows want to add to it.
Having won numerous league titles and made post-season appearances, the 2016 team looks tough enough to challenge for the Southwestern Buckeye League title.
The Arrows went 10-12 last year.
Twelve players are on the varsity roster this year, including three All-SWBL players. One of them is senior captain Elise Walker, who was first-team all conference in 2015. Senior Savannah Lynch and Junior Kylie Mikesell were honorable mention players as well. Seven players are returning letter winners.
“When I first started playing volleyball, I wasn’t as confident as I am now,” said Walker, who also competed at the state track championships in the high jump. “I was nervous playing with my sister and her friends because they were much older. But now I feel more like a leader and I want to play like a leader. I think for myself, Brianna Wells, and Savannah Lynch, it’s our job to pick the team up when we are down, and motivate the team when we are up.”
Coach Kristy Cottingim is in her seventh year leading the varsity team. “Last year was a rebuilding year,” she said. “I only had two seniors, so we spent much of the year bringing up girls into the program. Now we look much stronger as I only lost one senior.”
That senior happened to be All-SWBL second-team player Maddie Elkins. “She was a great player and middle hitter. Nice blocker and a nice girl to have,” Cottingim said.
Walker, Lynch and Wells have the most experience on this year’s team. Walker is into her fourth year playing varsity. Kalee Campbell and Chloe Smith returns after playing on the varsity as freshmen. Malorie Plaugher and Miranda Chaney are juniors. First-year players are Sarah Kurtz, Lesley Coffey, Kassy Wilson, and Addie Anspaugh. All four are seniors. Carol Cappel is a first-year sophomore.
“I expect Campbell, Plaugher and Walker to control the net. Campbell is 5-11, and Plaugher is 5-10. Walker will be playing setter and outside hitter. Miranda Chaney is a junior — I expect her to play all-around this year. She made great strides in her game,” Cottingim said.
“Brianna Wells is a solid defensive player for us. Cappel has been playing since the sixth grade and we expect her to play well.”
“We are playing for every moment,” Cottingim said. “Our motto is to ‘Win the Moment.’ We do not want to get caught up in anything and looking too far into the bigger picture. We want to take each play of each match — and that is how we want to play the season.
“Waynesville will have the most returning players in the conference. Dixie is always a challenge, and Milton-Union always comes out strong. It’s going to have us taking each moment to contend for the championship.”
Preble Shawnee begins the regular season on Saturday, Aug. 20, at CCC foe National Trail. Tuesday, Aug. 23, is a road trip to Brookville, before returning home an Thursday, Aug. 25, against SWBL Southwest Division rival Eaton.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @osanders_RH