In his first year as Cardington’s head volleyball coach, Ryan Treese inherits a total of seven letter-winners from last year’s squad.
Junior Hannah Wickline was a first-team pick in the KMAC and district last year and is considered by Treese to be one of the top middles in the area, while senior Paige Clinger was an honorable mention selection in the league and was lauded by the coach as a great leader. Both will be team captains this year.
Also back are senior Libero Maci Morgan, senior DS/OH Gabby Snodgrass, senior middle hitter Katie Lester, senior serving specialist Kirsten Bonnette and sophomore setter Kyleigh Bonnette.
They will be joined by junior Jillian Mills and sophomores Liz Long and Ashlee Tharp.
“We will compete until the last whistle,” said Treese. “Defensively, we have improved a lot. We have four or five players playing six rotations, so we have good all-around skills. We have some good hitters. Paige and Hannah will compete to be tops in the league hitting categories.”
Treese notes that his main concern is his players gaining a winning mentality to finish out closely-contested matches.
“We lack size on the right side with a small setter and possible small right-side hitter,” he said. “We need to break old habits and break the mindset of this is how it has always been. Finishing down the stretch and creating a winning culture. They are great, great girls and will fight until the end, but need a winning mindset.”
Part of that, he notes, is not being afraid of the traditional powers of the league. This year, he looks at Highland as the favorite, but thinks his Pirates can compete for second place with Fredericktown or Northmor. For the season, the coach is hoping for a top-three finish in the KMAC, to be in the top eight in the district and win over 65 percent of their matches.
“Serving is one of our strengths and we have to use that,” he said. “But at the same time, serve receive is not our strength, so siding out 70 percent is our goal. We’re looking for a couple of young players to step up and transition into six-rotation players.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS