By Garth Shanklin
The Amelia Lady Barons volleyball team enters the 2016 campaign looking to avenge a loss from 2015 while also going out on top.
The Barons finished last year 12-11, with a three-set loss to Western Brown the roadblock that prevented the team from finishing last season as the Southern Buckeye Academic and Athletic Conference champions.
Now, the team returns this year with a conference title on their minds. Three seniors earned all-conference honors for the Barons in 2015, and head coach Dan Coyne said replacing them won’t be easy.
“Our seniors brought the experience of playing volleyball at the varsity level,” Coyne said. “Their ability to help mentor our younger players and their on-court contributions will be hard to replace.”
One player who could have helped the Barons this season was junior Kandice Miller. Miller earned first-team all-SBAAC honors in 2015, but according to Coyne she will not play for the Lady Barons this season.
“She’s a big loss for the program,” Coyne said. “Her leadership and athleticism will be missed.”
However, it’s not all bad news for the Barons. Coyne said he feels junior hitter Allie Brown could step up and play a huge role in the team’s success this season.
“She’s the undisputed leader on and off the court,” Coyne said. “She’s my number one left-side hitter who plays all six rotations. She has the ability to terminate plays with her powerful swing.”
Brown will lead a team with several new players in different roles this season. Junior Sam Beach is expected to play on the left side for the team, while sophomore Allisa Marios has the middle. A pair of juniors, Kayla Mills and Emily O’Rouke, will serve as defensive specialists for the team.
Two freshman, Carly Simons and Jenna Batchler will be utilized as setters, as will junior Katie Howard.
Despite the youth, Coyne said his team’s goals have not changed in 2016.
“Our team goal as always is to win the league,” Coyne said. “I know I have a very young team and there are two very good teams in our way. I have two freshman setters who are going to be outstanding by the end of the season. They’ll have a big learning curve at the start as they transition from eighth-grade volleyball to varsity. I also have a new sophomore middle who I expect great things from this se season.”
The Lady Barons started the 2016 campaign with a three-set loss to Ross on Monday, Aug. 22. They dropped the match by scores of 25-20, 25-11, and 25-22. The team will look to rebound in their first road contest of the season on Thursday, Aug. 25 at Milford. The game is expected to begin at 7 p.m.