Building their program almost from the bottom up last year, the Paden City High School varsity volleyball team has slowly, but surely worked themselves into a prominent position among Class A teams, earning a Sectional title last season.
Thanks to a well organized middle school/feeder program, the volleyball program will be able to field both varsity and junior varsity teams this season, which bodes well for the future of the program.
"The junior varsity team is so necessary," said Lady Wildcat head volleyball coach, Fred King. "We are excited to have so many girls interested in participating. And good athletes with good knowledge of the game too. I can't tell you how much this is going to help our program."
The Lady 'Cats will have an interesting mix of experienced athletes playing along side those with no varsity experience at all, mixing newcomers with returners on a regular basis.
"We plan on fielding those that have played before with kids who can play, but have no varsity level experience," King said. "No positions are set in stone yet, in fact, several positions are likely to change, and probably change again before we get to the right solution for us."
Leading the Lady Wildcats into the 2011 season will be senior captains, Dominique Craft and Amanda Heasley. Both are returning letter winners, having given three years to the sport. "Assistant coach Jeff Bowers and myself are very proud of our two seniors," King said. "They are both showing excellent leadership, and have stepped into their roles very well indeed. They keep the team grounded and have become like coaches on the court. It's what is expected of them and they are handling their responsibilities wonderfully."
Lynnsie Parsons, Logan Cosper and Kelsey Loy, all juniors, also return to the court for the Green and White; joined by sophomores, Josie Fox and Beth Yaron.
Eleven freshmen join team: Graeson Baker, Megan Pierce, tori Anderson, Hannah Stanley, Kayla Hizer, Mallory Estel, Haley Hizer, Amber Neff, Emily Clements, Mariah Lasure and Cierra Yoho.
"Lots and lots of new talent here," the coach said. "And they've all been working hard in the off season, going to Spike-outs and camps."
"We have our older kids who have stepped up and now we're looking for these younger kids to step up as well. This team is only going to be as good as we let it be, and that will have to come from the players themselves."
"Our strengths and weaknesses are oddly about the same," King said. "We have a few kids with some good experience that we will count on, and yet, we only have a few kids with some good experience to count on."
Being of the belief that teams learn more from competition than hours of drills and practice, the Lady Wildcats have scheduled scrimmages against two local Class AA squads in hopes of pulling their game plan together more.
On Thursday, the Tyler Consolidated Lady Knights will scrimmage the Lady Wildcats in Paden City at 6 p.m. On Aug. 27 the 'Cats will host the Magnolia Lady Blue Eagles.
"We're fortunate enough to be able to bring two quality programs to our gym to scrimmage against," King said. "These are two excellent volleyball teams and we are hoping that by competing with them we'll be able to expose our team to game situations which we would never be able to do just by practicing alone. We'll be able to learn from these scrimmage games and see where we need work and perhaps come up with a few new ideas for our own game plan."
The Lady Wildcats will begin play on Aug. 31 at Linsly. The team will host St. John Central on Sept. 1 at 5:30 p.m.