With a core group of returners, Lady Cyclone volleyball looks for a quick start out of the gate in 2017.
Seven varsity returners, five of them seniors, make up the bulk of this year’s Ottawa High School volleyball team. With that amount of upperclassman leadership, this year’s squad has the attitude that this year is their year to make some noise in the Frontier League and into the postseason, Laura Jeannin said.
“Especially with the girls returning from last year, they have a goal in mind, and they want to show what Ottawa volleyball is,” Jeannin, OHS head volleyball coach, said. “They want to show how hard we work, and they want that to show in the results. I think they are kind of coming with that vengeance like, ‘Watch out, we are coming for you. This is our year to do it.’”
The team has 39 players filling the OHS gym for tryouts, Jeannin said. Seniors Kamryn Shaffer, Jenna DeVore, Sutton Jung, Jocelyn Woods and Justine French look to be regular varsity starters along with returning juniors Payton Bruce and Alli Kerns. The team lost two seniors in Ryen White and Kyra Skoog.
Ottawa was 13-23 last season, losing in the opening round of sub-state. This year, what the team does early in the season could dictate team attitude, Jeannin said.
“I think how we start is going to be really important, just coming out and building that confidence,” she said. “Last year, we came out and played really good against Lawrence High, and we didn’t quite pull it off. I think the confidence we could have gained from that game could have changed the results of us finishing games.
“I really want to see us come out and compete early on. It is not always about wins and losses early in the season, but I think if we are successful in what our goals are, I think that will help elevate us through the season. We have a tough schedule, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
That tough schedule kicks off 8 a.m. Aug. 26 at Louisburg High School for the Frontier League Invitational. Ottawa’s first home matches are set for 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in a triangular at OHS.
Louisburg is the team that knocked the Lady Cyclones out of sub-state a year ago. For Ottawa to reach success, they’ll have to go through an always-competitive Frontier League schedule, but Jeannin noted her players have shown growth through adversity.
“I think it is just that confidence,” she said. “We’ve gotten to see that progress. As much as they have developed physically as volleyball players. It’s great to see that mental turn from, ‘Ok, I’m a freshman, now I’m a sophomore, now it is time for me to take on that leadership role.’ We are seeing a lot of the seniors step up this year, and it is almost like a sense of urgency as in, ‘We have to do it this year, and we are going to lead our team to do it this year.’”