By Matt Mauney | Staff Writer
The high school volleyball season is just around the corner, and area teams are gearing up to build on last year’s success.
One school, Plant City High, will usher in a new era with new head coach Jessie Thorton.
Thorton, whose husband, Mike, is the new head coach of the Riverview football team, brings five years of volleyball head-coaching experience. She comes to Plant City from Cyprus Lake High in Fort Myers.
She is also familiar with many of the teams in the district, having previously coached at East Bay. She will take over for an improving PCHS volleyball program that advanced to region last year for the first time in 29 years.
“We have an excellent young group that has an outstanding work ethic with no excuses,” Thorton said. “They are hungry for success.”
Thorton said she will look to returning players Alex Arnold, Danielle Rodriguez, Noelle Dietrich and Kelly Drake to provide leadership with their experience with the Lady Raiders.
Thorton expects her squad to be particularly stout on defense and said improving the offense will be critical in the Lady Raiders’ success this year. The Lady Raiders went 5-0 in 7A District 8 last year, before finishing as runner-up in the district tournament.
“Our defense has a lot of heart,” she said. “Fearless as young players with a fresh start ahead with new leadership.”
For Durant, second-year head coach Brittany Wilson will be looking to build off last year’s second-place finish in the Class 8A District 7 tournament and make a run into November this year.
“We are going to have some tough games ahead of us, but (we will trust) in ourselves and (work) every day toward one common goal of just winning the next point,” Wilson said.
The Lady Cougars have a core group that includes junior outside hitters Lexi Thompson and Bella Anzalone, along with senior setter Maci Jones and junior right side hitter Victoria Fanning.
While team chemistry is a strength for Durant, Wilson said her team must be more “crafty — doing more than just hitting the hard balls.”
“We need to be able to score out of system,” she said.
Morgan Miltner has been the head coach for Strawberry Crest since the school opened in 2009. The Lady Chargers program is still growing, but it’s on the right track.
Strawberry Crest went 8-11 last season and will go through a sense of rebuilding, after returning only two starting seniors.
“Our communication and knowledge of the game is critical,” Miltner said.
Defense will be a key for the team this year, according to Miltner, who will look to Jamee Townsend and Shelby Waldron to solidify the defense.
“We are a very scrappy defensive team,” Miltner said.
Senior setter Brianna Sanchez also returns, along with Townsend, a senior libero.
Contact Matt Mauney at email@example.com.
AT A GLANCE
Class: 6A District: 11
Head coach: Morgan Miltner
Year at school: Entering fourth season
2011 record: 8-11
Key returners: Jamee Townsend, senior, libero; Brianna Sanchez, senior, setter
Key players lost: Brandi Dilts, middle hitter
Class: 8A District: 7
Head coach: Brittany Wilson
Year at school: Entering second season
2011 record: 12-12
Key returners: Lexi Thompson, junior, outside hitter; Maci Jones, senior, setter; Bella Anzalone, senior, outside hitter; Victoria Fanning, junior, right side hitter
Key players lost: Chelsea Bowden, middle hitter; Payton Sims, libero
Class: 7A District: 8
Head coach: Jessie Thorton
Year at school: First year
2011 record: 9-4
Key returners: Alex Arnold, Danielle Rodriguez, Noelle Dietrich and Kelly Drake
Key players lost: Any Booher and Makensie McAvoy “>http://promtruba.com.ua/zaem-za-neskolko-minut.php