By Chris Chaney
The girls’ volleyball season kicked off on Saturday, Aug. 17 with various local teams taking place in trimatches around the city, giving their starting rotations their first taste of competitive high school volleyball in nearly 10 months.
Dominance has been the common thread among the Clermont County landscape in recent years with top teams typically holding their stead and making it very difficult for challengers to break through and take the conference titles out of their grip.
On the Southern Buckeye Conference’s National Division side, Williamsburg has been that dominant team for the past three years.
Second-year head coach Kim McCarty is well aware of her position at the top of the SBC and plans to keep the status quo in 2013 with a strong crop of talent serving it up for the Lady Wildcats.
“I’m really excited and the girls are excited about the team this year,” McCarty said. “We have four players on our team that are coming back from last year and three freshmen who will play. They’ve played in the offseason as well and I think they’ll bring a lot to the team this year.”
The four returners, three of whom are seniors, include Jessie Brunsman, Kelsey Burnett, Sam Clark and Cassidy Bowling.
“We’re excited with what we have and if we can get a groove going, I think we can do pretty well,” McCarty said.
The Lady Wildcats have won the league four of the past six seasons and finished second in the two seasons they didn’t win (both of which were won by East Clinton, who no longer plays in the SBC).
If Williamsburg wants to make if five of the last seven seasons, they will have to hold off a solid contingent of teams that include Damon Smith’s Felicity Lady Cardinals, who were runners-up last year.
Felicity graduated six seniors last year, but brings back four juniors who will look to add a league title to their résumé before graduation in the spring. Among those four seniors are All-SBC selections Jodi Seale and Charlotte Clinger.
Another contender will be Cameron Tobe’s Clermont Northeastern Lady Rockets. CNE is coming off of a 10-11 campaign in 2012, but returns a lot of talent, including five seniors and two sophomores in Lindsay Wright and Jenna Mummert who were All-SBC selections in their freshman seasons.
On the other side of the SBC, the American Division has been under the dominance of Western Brown, who has won a piece of every league title dating back to 2006.
Two teams who are trying to end that streak include Goshen and Bethel-Tate.
The Lady Warriors’ Lisa Smith believes her squad has the makeup of a challenger to the Lady Broncos.
“So far, so good,” Smith said of the preseason prep work. “The girls have been working hard and coming together as a group more and more each day, getting to know each other better and with our three seniors, I think we can be competitive.”
The Lady Warriors will be led by Morgan Dean, a senior middle hitter, along with Michaela Adams and Tiffany Scheadler, two other seniors who Smith is expecting big things from.
The fourth returning letter winner from last year is junior setter Brandi Steele.
“The goal that we normally set every year is to be the league champs,” Smith said. “That’s the top priority. Then after that, we want to advance in the sectionals. (Winning league and advancing) usually go together.”
Also hoping to accomplish their goal of becoming league champs is Bethel-Tate, under first-year head coach Colleen Gaffney.
Gaffney said she expects the upperclassmen to play a big role in the team’s success in 2013. That role will be played mainly by senior First Team All-Conference performer Christine Meyers. Abby Ratcliff, Alex Combs, Liz Neal and Miranda Poklar are other seniors that Gaffney will rely on for leadership.
In the Eastern Cincinnati Conference, Lauren Cooper’s Milford Lady Eagles are one of the top teams in the area heading into 2013.
A relatively young team a year ago, the Lady Eagles only lost two players to graduation and return nine letter winners from the 2012 squad that went 17-8 and finished third in the conference.
As far as Clermont County goes, Glen Este will be the other ECC team vying for bragging rights as the Lady Trojans look to reverse their fortune from a year ago.
Seniors Jenny Howell and Shaelyn Holingshead return as All-Conference performers to lead Cheryl Korfhagen’s squad in 2013. So far, so good for the Lady Trojans as they won their opener over Colerain 25-10, 25-14, 25-17.
To keep up with all the area’s volleyball action, follow The Clermont Sun’s sports section on Twitter, @ClerSunSports.