Lady ‘Jills Locked And Loaded
The Valley Lumberjills welcome newly-hired Kari Brown as the new volleyball head coach to replace Velisha Shepherd, who stepped down to have a baby. Brown took the job to prevent a vacancy in the position so the sport wouldn’t fold because of a lack of a coach.
Although Brown has no coaching or volleyball playing expertise, she has learned a great deal from the players. She has watched her daughter, Erin, play for two seasons, has been studying the game, and plucking Velisha’s brain.
“I’m learning about the girls and they are learning about me,” said Brown. “There is an adjustment period, but I’m very pleased the girls are warming up to me, and are willing to lend me a hand in coaching this sport.”
The ‘Jills lost only two seniors to graduation last year and are returning nine lettermen, including seniors Sarah Bassett and Sammi Roberts, who are the team leaders along with a fistfull of juniors who are ready to get started.
Bassett is the team’s setter, while Roberts can play everywhere. However, with nine players with loads of varsity experience, the volleyball play at Valley will be at an all-time high. Besides Bassett and Roberts, the ‘Jills return Brown, Cassidy Price, Bailey Underwood, Bre Harris, Maggie Hornbeck, Cassidy West, Amanda Sharpe, Rachel Baker, and Grace Hayes to the varsity squad.
West, Sharpe, Hayes, Harris, and Hornbeck will play both varsity and junior varsity. Players like Steshka Strum, Katie Bassett, Madeline Willoughby, Alex Bassett, Shannan Brown, Deanna Davis, and Kiana Spencer will all play junior varsity ball and refine their game for upcoming seasons.
With most of the varsity team having quality playing time last season, Brown will have a veteran team to help her get acclimated to the game.
Besides the play of Sarah Bassett as the team’s number one setter, Roberts, West, and Underwood can fly to the ball and set up the hitters. Erin Brown, along with Roberts, Cassidy Price, and Rachel Baker, can and will make quite a buzz around the net with their aggressive style of play.
Kari Brown knows there is a lot of potential to enjoy some success this season. But, with 18 girls out and no assistant coach to give her a hand, she will need for her players to understand that they, too, must pick up their game and not create more stress for the team.
“I love these girls,” said Brown, “They are already helping me get acclimated to the game. Not only are they helping get the gym ready for practice, they are helping cleanup afterward, and believe me, that’s real nice. The girls all work hard on their game.”
Valley will open the season at Paden City with a tri-match that includes Bellaire St. John at 6 p.m. on Sept. 4. Their first home match is 5:30 p.m., Sept 9, against the Lady Cougars of Frontier.