By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
There is optimism on the hardwood for the first time in several years for the Johnson County volleyball team. The Lady Longhorns return eight veteran players from last year’s squad that won a total of three conference matches. Head coach Donna Poteet has all the ingredients to put together a squad that could make some noise in what might be the state’s toughest volleyball conference in the AA classification.
“We have a lot of experience and the best size we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Poteet. “We have four seniors and four juniors back who got a lot of varsity playing time last year. This is a talented group this is willing to do what it takes to be good. They don’t care to work hard and all of them get along with one another. I’m expecting some good things from them.”
Seniors Margaret Morrow, Renie Morrow, Bella Miller and Kaylee Wittenberg will show the way. The Morrow twins will lead the front line and will both be hitters. Wittenberg’s main role will be as a setter while Miller is the defensive specialist on the back row.
“Our seniors are high character kids with outstanding GPA’s,” added Poteet. “They’re the type of kids that are a pleasure to work with. Our juniors are the same way. These kids don’t care to work hard for it. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to be winners. Both classes want to elevate their play and I believe they all will be able to do that.”
The junior class will be led by three year starter Taylor Parsons and libero Nathalie Winters. Abby Cornett and Taylor Cox will also play a key role on the team.“Parsons is a very strong player on the front line that is very athletic,” stated Poteet. “She will definitely be one of our team leaders and somebody we expect to get our scoring from. Winters will be our libero and will direct our defense. She will call out the switches and keep everybody straight. Cornett can play the front line or the back row wherever needed. Cox is a versatile player that can play as a second setter or hitter.
The coach is also expecting some solid play from junior Emily Garr who was missed nearly all of last season with an injury. Juniors Sydney Souder and Olivia Dickson along with sophomore Rhiannon Icenhour will round out the varsity roster. Poteet agreed that each of them could see some playing time.
“Garr has some size and can help us on the front line. Dickson, Souder and Icenhour will head up our junior varsity squad but all could see varsity time as well.”Poteet said that softball players Hannah Brooks, MaddI Eddington and Cassidy Lakatos could all work their way onto the varsity and see some playing time as well.
“They have been out over the summer but all three can be good players. It’s going to take a little time to see who can do what. We need a little bit of time to jell. I think the second half of the season will be a different story but we need this first half of the season to compete. We could surprise a lot of people by the time tournaments roll around.”
Poteet tabbed Sullivan South as the team to beat. She feels like Elizabethton and Sullivan East could challenge along with Unicoi County.
“Everybody can play in this league,” said Poteet. “You don’t have any weak teams because Happy Valley is much improved. I am hoping that our girls that play multiple sports will carry over their competitiveness to the volleyball court. I believe we can be a pretty good team with the girls that we have here now.”
We expect their competitiveness to carry over on the volleyball court from the other sports that they play.