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Copley volleyball team looking to ‘out-work, out-think’ opponents

8/29/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COPLEY — Copley High School head volleyball coach Chuck Musselman said he is “looking to change the mindset” of the team’s players this season.

“For the past few years, nobody was scared when they saw Copley on their schedule,” he said. “We need to change that and it starts within. We will be playing together and using the tools that we have to our advantage. We are going to be smaller and less experienced than almost every team we play, so we are going to have to out-hustle, out-work and out-think our opponents.”

According to the coach, the strength of this year’s team is its depth.

“We may not have that stud or two that can carry our team, but if anyone is struggling, we have talent waiting to step in and pick up the slack,” he said. “We are not really a young team, but we are an inexperienced team. We have five players returning that saw some varsity action last year, but we graduated seven senior letter-winners and lost another two letter-winners heading into the season. So our new blood will have to step in and grow up fast to replace the nine lost letter-winners.”

The seniors on this year’s team are Baylee Traylor (right side hitter), Alicia Fonte (left side hitter), Jada Tuggle (defensive specialist) and Lizzy Warren (defensive specialist).

“Baylee and Alicia are returning letter-winners and will be counted on to help lead our offense,” Musselman said. “Jada and Lizzy both were on our JV [junior varsity] team last year and will be needed to fill some huge holes in the back row left by our graduated seniors.”

This year’s junior class is led by middle/outside hitter Bella Ison, setter Brooke Emich, left side hitter Mia Santagata, middle hitter Gretchen Burton and setter Aryn Shaub.

“Bella will be counted on to lead our hitters after being one of our best offensive players last year as a sophomore,” the coach said. “Brooke was a starter the second half of last year and will step into the setters spot this year. Mia, Gretchen and Aryn will be stepping in after playing JV last year.”

In addition, Musselman said, a trio of underclassmen will be counted on to make key contributions to the team this season.

“Sophomore Katie Briant (left side hitter) will be counted on immediately, after being slowed by injuries last year,” he noted. “Sophomore Madi Cox was recently moved into our libero position after setting the last three years. Freshman Erika Woodard will see time as our middle hitter and will be counted on to grow quickly.”

Musselman is in his second year as Copley’s varsity volleyball coach, and the JV coach is Antoine Paster.

Last year, the varsity team finished with a 9-15 overall record. Copley lost in the district finals to Wadsworth in four games after going 9-0 against Firestone, Cuyahoga Falls and Highland high schools in the first three rounds.

“Talking to other coaches, it seems everyone thinks we will finish fourth to fifth in the league [this season], but if we come together quickly, I think we could easily finish higher than that,” Musselman said. “District finals is our goal again, and we’ll take our chances from there.”

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