By Tim Chambers
Like a hot air balloon being released into the sky, there is nowhere to go but up for Johnson County’s volleyball team. The Lady Longhorns return their entire squad after suffering through some growing pains last year.
Head coach Donna Poteet is excited about what she has seen so far from her returning players. She knows the sky could be the limit for her 2016 team.
“When you have a difficult situation like last year there is always a silver lining,” said Poteet. “We now have a lot of experience coming back. We have three seniors, a crop of juniors and three sophomores. The pieces and experience are there unlike last year. I can already see a lot of improvement. I hope it translates into more wins.”
Poteet had to bring her junior varsity squad up to compete at the varsity level after the first couple of games. Several of them gained some valuable experience including three seniors who are expected to be the team leaders.
“Eden Fenner is a very good player who will be our libero,” said Poteet. “She is very quick and has an excellent attitude. We are counting on her to be our defensive leader.”
Fenner is ready to embrace that role.
“We have a chance to win some games if we play hard and play together, “said Fenner. “We all got a lot of playing time last year so that’s going to help us right from the start. The summer camps we have played in have also made us better. We want to prove that on the court.”
All-Conference performers Caitlin Leonard and Faith Poteet will definitely play a major role in Johnson County’s success.
“Caitlin is a very good offensive player who does well around the net,” said Poteet. “Faith is a good hitter and can help us at a couple of different places. We need all three of our seniors to step up and play well. Faith and Caitlin will lead our offense.”
Both seniors know that a lot is expected from them.
“Our biggest goal is to work better together than we did last year,” said Leonard. “We had so many problems which made it hard to do. It’s not like that now. We have a lot of experience back and we all love playing and being on the same team together. I can see us winning some big games this year.”
Faith Poteet added, “We’re a scrappy group that communicates well. We have a lot of unity on this team. I think that we are going to surprise some teams with how much better we’ve gotten.”
Coach Poteet was excited about the junior class as well.
“Courtney Brooks is our setter who is really becoming a good player. Brittney Brooks is an excellent defensive player that we will be counting on. Kam Sluder is one of our best all around players and Brittney Cox is a strong hitter. We need to see a lot of good things from those four.”
Sophomores Margaret Morrow, Renie Morrow and Haley Whittenburg will round out the varsity squad.
“They are a good nucleus for our younger players,” added Poteet. “We are looking for them to provide some good junior varsity play and leadership for our freshmen players. “
Poteet was all smiles when talking about her freshmen.
“We have a lot of speed, talent and size on that squad. I can see some great things for them later down the road. They have a chance to be something special before they leave here. I’m excited to have all of them.”
The five who will play junior varsity include Taylor Parsons, Abby Cornett, Natalie Winters, Hannah Brooks and Sydney Souder.
“We’re playing a lot of games this year,” added Poteet. “The varsity kids have all improved and I’m watching them grow into becoming a good team. It’s still a wait and see thing. But I can see us being competitive and a lot better than last year.”