Warrior volleyball is bumping its way into another title run
Fresh off a fourth-place finish at state a year ago and returning the bulk of the starting team, the Whittell High Warriors volleyball team is poised and ready to make another title run.
“This is the deepest team we’ve ever had here,” head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “We have a strong veteran team this season.”
Five starting players are coming back for the 2000 campaign, led by a trio of seniors in Shannon McGlothlin, Carlye Johnson, and Joeleene Brinkley. McGlothlin is coming off a stellar season in which she took home numerous accolades, including second team sll-state and first-team all-division, while Johnson nabbed second-team all-division honors.
“Shannon is the best in the league,” McLaughlin said. “She’s a very good passer; she does everything well. Carlye has the best hands as a setter I’ve ever had. She’s also picked up our very sophisticated offense and runs it to perfection.”
Joining the seniors are middle hitter Ashley Berns and defensive specialist Jessica Purdy. Combine the returning players with a group of talented newcomers, and McLaughlin feels that his team could easily be the best in the league.
“All 10 of them could start in the league,” the six-year coach said. “All four of my bench players are better than most of the starters on the other teams we’ll be playing.”
McGlothlin agrees with her coach’s assessment of this year’s team.
“This is the best team in my four years,” the senior outside hitter said.
Making their debut for the Warriors’ varsity club this season will be Shellie Zaskoda, the younger sister of former Whittell standout Erin; Kim McGlothlin, Shannon’s younger sibling; Liz Rico; and outside hitters Erin Silver.
“They all played on the same club team this summer,” McGlothlin said. “I went to Sacramento to see them play and my mouth dropped to the ground. They’ve improved so much over the summer, it’s amazing.”
All three will be a vital part of the success of the season, according to McLaughlin.
“You’d never know the newcomers are new,” McLaughlin said. “There’s no real difference in the competition. They’re all interchangeable.”
The overall depth and experience will prove to be the biggest asset for the team this fall.
“That’s our strongest point,” Brinkley said. “We’re all equal players and able to play well together.”
The seniors don’t see any dropoff with the quality of play in the newcomers. There is as much confidence in the last player on the bench as there is in the starting six.
“Everyone has something really important that they can contribute to the team,” Johnson said. “There’s not only one thing, it’s multiple things they can add.”
The one weakness the Warriors may possess is the lack of height. The tallest members are 5 feet 11 inches and 5-9, while the rest of the team is 5-7 and under. But McLaughlin doesn’t really see that as a weakness.
“We’ll make that up with defense, speed, court smarts, and team hustle,” he said.
The whole team has its eyes set on a state title and feels the hardware is well within their grasp.
“Our goal is to win it all,” McLaughlin said. “All we need to do is put it all together.”
Last year’s record: 12-6 overall, 9-3 league (fourth in state)
Coach: Dan McLaughlin, sixth year
Returning starters: five (Shannon McGlothin, Carlye Johnson, Ashley Berns, Jessica Purdy, and Joeleene Brinkley)
Quote: “Our goal is to win it all. All we need to do is put it all together,” Dan McLaughlin
Opener: Lowry Tournament, Aug. 25 and 26th
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