By Lenny Sementi
Coach Lydia Miller has built stability in Tuscola’s volleyball program over the past few years, and that consistency in the program has the Lady Warriors competing with the top programs in the area year in and year out.
Miller, who is entering her sixth year as head coach, is the first coach to lead the squad for more than three straight seasons in the past 22 years. She will lean on a solid senior class to lead the way this fall building on a 14-9 campaign. The senior class is six strong returning three starters from last fall.
“We were second in the league two years ago and third last year,” stated the coach. “It’s our goal to move back up and compete for a league crown.”
Senior Natalie Bates returns as the teams’ defensive specialist. The human floor burn and an All-CIC performer dove her way to a team leading 283 digs and was also strong serving the ball by recording 21 aces. Classmate Lexie Russo was a jack-of-all-trades but did most of her damage in the back row. She found her way to 99 saves while notching 10 aces and took home the team’s service award. And fourth-year player McKinlee Miller delivered both up front at the net in and in the back row. She contributed 24 aces, 70 kills, and 94 digs to the cause.
The junior class boasts six players as well with a pair of returning starters in Karli Dean and Kyra Moyer. Classmate Maddie Green will be joining them on the floor when starting lineups are announced opening night against Cerro Gordo on Monday, Aug. 20. Moyer was big on defense but will be called on to deliver in other areas, as well, this season ,while Dean was big at the net leading the team with 195 kills. She also makes it tough on opposing offenses blocking a team best 34 balls a year ago.
The sophomore class will donate to both the varsity and JV squads, and Coach Miller is all smiles when talking about the freshman class, which has nine players in all, including Katie Dean, who will most likely make a big splash at the varsity level. The Dean sisters both eclipse the six-foot mark and will be a daunting view up front for the opposition.
Tuscola’s varsity took third place in a very strong St. Thomas-More league and second at the Lake Land tournament and downed a very good pre-season state-ranked Pleasant Plains team at a two-day Millikin Tournament. The JV was fourth in the St. Joe summer league and ended the Millikin tourney with a 5-1 record overall.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Aug. 15 edition of The Tuscola Journal.