By Tony Hooker
How has your team adjusted to this strange timeline?
We have amazing kids – resilient kids! They have rolled with the punches all year. We had contact days in summer, planned for season in fall, then had contact days again in fall. In January we were allotted more contact days – but everyone (me included) began to feel – what’s the point, as we didn’t see a chance of playing. Then the announcement came. Wow – did things change! Kids (and coaches) were so excited. It has been a whirlwind – basketball leading directly into volleyball – then a three-week overlap with softball/track. The kids don’t care – they just want to play. So, the simple answer – they have done so perfectly.
Any benefits you can see from playing a spring season?
I wish we had a postseason – but as the softball coach missing out on a season last year I am glad that ‘Spring’ sports are given a full season. IHSA has done all they can do to make it fair. The majority of our kids are multi-sport athletes so they are still getting a fair shake. If anything, we have 11 (very talented) freshmen this extra time has allowed us to get to know one another better – we have a team snapchat, so even when not allowed contact days someone is usually sharing something funny or a fun picture. So having more time with the freshmen has allowed us more time to bond. I feel like this team has been together forever.
Who are you key returnees?
Senior middle Madie Burwell (lead team in kills as a junior); Senior setter – Kyleigh Block (four-year varsity letter winner, second in assists and kills last season) Junior middle – Vanessa Wright
We graduated a very talented senior class – Reagan Cheely, setter; Jordyn Ray, OH, Molly Mixell, Middle; Ragin Baker, libero. Their experience and athleticism will be missed.
Are there any newcomers who will make an impact?
Yes! This freshmen class is amazing! They went to state as seventh graders and were expected to make a run as 8th graders before COVID ‘lockdown’ hit. Alison Pangburn and Kayln Cordes are proving to be solid setters; Logan Lillard is a very talented outside hitter. I expect all three to see quite a bit of varsity time. That’s just to name a few of the 11 freshmen we have out this season, I am very excited for VGHS volleyball’s future. The JH program has proved to benefit our kids; John Woolley and Erin Pangburn have done a stellar job. My job is much easier with a great feeder program!
What are your season expectations?
I have high expectations. With strong leadership from our seniors and a talented group of underclassmen, once they finesse their chemistry I think we may surprise some people.