The Cougars, who join the ranks of the IHSAA, will also need to play some strong defense in order to have a successful season.
“Our goal is to establish ourselves as a viable program,” said LCA coach Glenn Goldsmith. “My goal is for us to be .500 this year. I think that would be a successful season.”
LCA, which finished with a losing record last year, returns three starters. Price, who has extensive club volleyball experience, leads the way as the “quarterback” of the Cougars.
“Paige is our leader and is continuing to work on leading the team,” Goldsmith said. “She is technically sound and learning how to read defenses better.”
The Cougars also returns seniors Frani Gerst and Kathleen Sands, both starters a year ago. Gerst will be the key hitter for the LCA offensive attack. Also back are seniors Hailey Nieveen, Jessica Goss and Megan Lang and junior Julianne Haines. Completing the varsity roster is senior Ali Slabaugh and sophomore Meryl Gerst.
“We have Paige and then some seniors with athletic skills,” said Goldsmith, whose program lost three seniors and saw four other players from last year transfer to other schools. “We have a chance if our seniors come around. We have to play defense well. We have to be a more defensive team.
“These kids are just great to coach. They are very resilient and there is no letdown in them. They genuinely like each other and like to play volleyball.”
Tigers Looking Strong Again
A very talented quartet of returning all-conference performers has Warsaw boasting a strong squad again this fall.
The Tigers, who finished 25-7 overall and 6-1 in the Northern Lakes Conference in 2011, welcome back All-NLC players in seniors Alex Sanchez (setter), Chloe Hubner (setter) and Jamie Lacheta (outside hitter) and junior Emily Poe (outside hitter).
Warsaw was league runner-up in 2011 to perennial NLC and state power Elkhart Memorial (which went 32-5 overall, 7-0 in the NLC and won the sectional).
Warsaw coach Michael Howard also expects sophomores Olivia Divine (outside hitter) and Katie Voelz (middle hitter) to play huge roles this fall.
“We are expecting to compete for conference and sectional championships this season,” said WCHS coach Howard. “We have a nice mix of youth and maturity and should be very athletic at all positions. Middle play will be key for us and the overall development of our team chemistry.”
Wawasee More Comfortable
A year under their belts in coach Jeff Phillips’ system bodes well for Wawasee this fall on the court.
“I feel much more confident that the system is in place for the setters and the liberos that it was,” said Phillips as he enters his second season in Syracuse. “Now, Alli (Ousley), Aly (Anderson) and even Anne (Beers) know the system and its now just can they fill in those positions and take over.”
The Warriors return eight letter winners from a year ago when they finished 14-17 overall and 2-5 in the NLC.
The trio of sophomores Ousley (setter) and Anderson (back row) and senior Beer (all around) lead the way. Junior Lydia Katsopoulous, who has been slowed by leg injuries her first two seasons, will be a key at outside hitter.
The senior trio of Taylor Spangle, Madi Anderson and Kaitlin Goines will contribute at the net, while classmate Leeann McGuire will set and play back row.
Vikings Look To Improve
Abby Turner hopes for bigger and better things as she enters her second season as the Tippecanoe Valley coach.
The Vikings return a strong group from last year’s team, which finished 10-17 overall and won twice in Three Rivers Conference play.
“My goal is for us to jell and come together as a team to improve this season,” said Turner, herself a former volleyball and basketball player at Valley. “My goal is for us to win more in the TRC and move up in the conference. I’d also like to see us have a winning season overall.
“Our passing and serving will be key. We have a lot of work to do defensively. I like the idea that our players know each other. We also need good team chemistry to make us a better team this year.”
Valley returns its top four hitters in Caylie Teel, an athletic 5-8 sophomore, Kelsey Ball, a 5-10 junior, Sara Alexander, a 6-2 junior, and Courtney Newsome, a 5-8 senior.
The Vikings also welcome back juniors Kelsey Eckert (setter) and Danielle Adams (defensive specialist), sophomore Teniya Schull (setter) and senior Connor Fraser.
Triton Hopes To Move Up In NSC
The Trojans look to climb in the Northern State Conference this season after a 2-5 league mark in 2011.
“My goal is for us to finish fourth or higher in the NSC,” said Triton coach Samantha Keel. “I believe this is very possible. We have a lot of power out of the middle and left and since we’ve made some style changes, I’m excited to see these changes affect our team in a positive way.”
Senior Shana Anderson, an All-NSC honorable mention pick in 2011, returns to lead the Trojans. Also back are senior starters Marissa Anderson and Breanna Lemler, along with sophomore returnees Krystal Sellers and Becca Kennedy.
Whitko Trying To Build
That’s the goal for the Whitko program as Brandy Smith enters her second season as coach.
“Coming off two, five-win seasons in a row and over a decade of losing seasons and changing coaches, we are really trying to build a program to be competitive in our conference (where five TRC teams had 20 wins or more last year) and the sectional,” said Smith.
“This is a big feat that will not happen overnight. Our goal in my second year as varsity coach is to take it one game at a time.”
Whitko finished 5-23 overall and 1-6 in the Three Rivers Conference in 2011.
The Wildcats return three key players, led by senior setter Meghan Peters, now in her third year as a starter. Juniors Whitney Hobbs, an honorable mention All-TRC pick in 2011, and Taylor Zwick are back in the middle.
Smith also expects seniors Aressa Tackwell and Hannah Coki to play big roles this season. Sophomores Elaine Warner, Delaney Ray and Maddie Gawthrop are hitters, while juniors Jenny Brown and Dana Hobbs are expected to contribute in the back row.