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Coventry volleyball coach building through team work

10/3/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COVENTRY — First-year Coventry High School girls volleyball head coach Breanna Smith said the No. 1 goal she gave to her players this season is “to play together as a team.”

“So far, I think we are doing a great job,” she stated. “We have had our ups and downs, but they never give up.”

Smith called this year’s squad “a pretty young team.”

“We have four seniors, but only one played varsity last year,” she said.

The seniors on this year’s team (with comments on each by the coach) are as follows:

  • Amber Thacker: “Amber has played varsity since her freshman year. She is a strong defensive player and has helped us a lot in the back row.”
  • Sarah Wearley: “This is her first year on varsity and she is my full-time setter. Sarah has worked hard in the offseason and it shows on the court.”
  • Jenna Texter: “Jenna did not play last year and has come on board and become a huge part of this team. She is a great defensive player and a very consistent server.”
  • Paige McKinney: “This is her first year playing varsity and she has played middle the past three years. I have moved her to right-side hitter, and she has been playing really well.”

According to Smith, Coventry has a strong junior class.

“I have five juniors and all of them stand out,” she stated. “Chloe Baird and Hannah Hayes are two returning varsity players. Chloe Baird is a great hitter and our top kill leader so far this year. Hannah Hayes is our libero and a huge reason why our defense is very good. Hannah is one of the best liberos in our league. Emily Cerepak was on varsity last year but did not see a lot of playing time. This year, she has [come] in and earned a starting spot as a middle hitter. This is Victoria Hall’s first year on varsity and she brings a lot to the team. She can play every position on the court, and she is a great player to have on the team. Shayna Conner is also in her first year on varsity. She is a right-side hitter and has a lot of power. ”

In addition, the coach said, two freshmen are making an impact on the varsity squad.

“Haley Akers is a 6-foot-2 freshman who has earned a starting spot as our middle hitter. Haley is a great blocker, and her hitting has improved a great deal since spring,” she said. “My other freshman is Brenna Tkalcic, who is a great defensive player and another reason I feel our defense has improved this year.”

Smith said Coventry has “a very good defensive team” this season.

Through the first 16 games of the season, Coventry had matched its win total from the entire 2012 season. However, Smith said, the team is close to becoming much better.

“Right now, we have a record of 5-11,” she said. “There have been three matches we lost in the deciding fifth game.”

Smith is in her first year coaching at Coventry. Heidi Cowley is her assistant and junior varsity coach.

“I have been coaching for four years now, and these girls are by far the best group I have ever coached,” Smith said.

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