Depth important for volleyball team

Kaitlin Cordes, Volleyball Reporter

Depth at a variety of positions will be the key to the 2017 Eastern volleyball season. With the roster stacked with 20 players, Coach Sam Wolinski said she has multiple lineup options for gameplay.

With the addition of five freshmen and a transfer sophomore and the return of seasoned veterans, Wolinski said there is no shortage of skill when her team is on the court.

“From a senior stand point, we have outside hitter Maria Brown,” Wolinski said. “In the middle, Allie Hueston’s back for a full go after a shoulder injury she faced, really most of last year and didn’t play most of last year. Ann Hughes is back and is the starting libero. That helps solidify the back row.”

She said the left side is a strong group with freshmen Madison Cunningham and Kylie Michael. On the right side, the Panthers benefit from the combination of junior Taylor Smith, freshman Lexi May, senior Hayley Richardson and sophomore Katie Sommers.

Setters Smith and sophomores Gina Furlin and Breanna Jager skillfully run the offense, which Wolinski said is evident even in the early days of the season. 

Wolinski said one thing she emphasizes to her team is to be unselfish.

“What we do offensively, we try to keep it balanced. One game you might see one person have more kills than another, but if you look at the stat sheet, it’s going to be balanced. That’s what we’re about on offense,” Wolinski said.

Starting last spring, Wolinski said her team began working toward the start of the 2017 season, and that preparation continued throughout the summer, both individually and as a team.

She said the summer was the perfect opportunity to have the newcomers mesh with the returning players, and it paid off as Wolinski said she has witnessed a sense of comfortableness while her team is on the court.

Team morale is something Wolinski said she has put at the forefront as well. She said her team has made a commitment to a celebration piece during gameplay, and the team has become like a family.

Wolinski said her team remains a skilled serving squad and has continued to make tremendous improvements on serve receive and digs, allowing the team to attack the ball and score. She added that her squad is full of hitters who can score points for the Panthers.

With the team’s first few matches taking place at home, Wolinski said her squad can begin to attract fans and start off the season comfortably in its own backyard.

“Playing at home early…you can build that fan base. (The players) can get adjusted and get used to their class schedule since we’re playing at home,” Wolinski said. “We know Lantz, so we know what’s going to happen.”

Kaitlin Cordes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]