The 2018 girls volleyball season for Shamokin Area and Lourdes Regional will be interesting for both programs.
For Shamokin, it will be a rebuilding year which head coach Andrew Arnold hopes to not treat that way.
For Lourdes Regional, it’s a season in which the Red Raiders have as much experience as they’ve had in years, and they want to get the program back on track.
Either way, it could be a season filled with both growing pains and surprises for both teams.
“This year we are going to be positively optimistic,” says Shamokin coach Andrew Arnold. “We are only returning two starters from 2017 and only a few girls have varsity experience.
“Last year’s team never really came together and we had a disappointing finish to the season. I am hopeful that this year, although somewhat rebuilding, can be a good year as we should only get stronger as the season goes on. Trying to find what everyone’s role on the team is may be difficult at times, but I am optimistic that it will work out.”
“This season gives me the highest hopes for a playoff berth,” says Lourdes coach Tara Novak. “My team is younger but very motivated.”
Unexpected loss for Indians
“We lost our expected setter as she decided to graduate a year early and it has put pressure on our sophomore setter, Ari Nolter,” Arnold says. “Ari has worked hard all summer and now with everyday practices we hope she will be ready once the season begins.
“For offense we will look to our tall lefty, Sierra Burd, and our high-jumping outside hittier, Barb Jemmott. Passing and defense will be our points of emphasis. (The team) has the potential to be good but it will be up to their work ethic. We have some good talent on the team this year, it is just young. We will work hard to mold them into a team.
“My expectations for this team are the same as any of my teams. We should contend for the Twin Valley Conference title and contend for the school’s first district title.”
Raiders have good front size
“Our strength is our hitting this year,” says Novak. “We have two six-foot middles, Dani Renno and Frances Czeponis, who look to dominate the floor with both hitting and blocking. Olivia Reiner has stepped up tremendously. This is only her second year playing and she’s proven herself enough to start on the varsity court. Meril Czeponis will be playing right side hitter and second setter. This position is one that many coaches hope to be able to use since it allows a setter to also hit. Not often do we get a taller setter.
“Emma Shimko’s confidence and natural talent will help lead us, along with Doherty Fesniak as our libero. I think what excites me the most, though, is the major improvement in Anna Gownley. She has a fire in her this season that I’ve been waiting to see. She’s the key player this year, as we are running a 5-1 offense. In a 5-1, the setter is the true leader of the court, and I am proud to say Anna has absolutely taken on that role for herself.”
First-year senior Lilly Bickel and freshman Shannon Shoveling should also contribute right away, says Novak.
“ They’re both very quick learners who put forth the type of energy that will give them time on the varsity court.”
Novak sees Minersville and Blue Mountain as the favorites in the Schuylkill League.
Following are capsule looks at each team’s roster:
Head coach: Andrew Arnold Assistant coaches: Brian Gummel, Dave Yordy Last year: 7-11 Roster: Seniors — Barbara Jemmott, outside hitter (OH); Nicole Bainbridge, middle hitter (MH); Sierra Burd, opposite; Madison Reigel, setter (S), OH. Juniors — Rhaegan Henz, libero; Gabby Greager, OH; Sierra Neidig, OH; Sara Baney, OH; Kayla Pietkiewicz, OH; Molly Stevens, defensive specialist; Emma Laughlin, MH; Makayla Moroskie, defensive specialist; Rhiannon Kogut, OH. Sophomores — Ari Nolter, setter; Roz Kane, OH. Freshmen — Nadia Pearson, OH; Morgan Nolter, OH; Khloey Baney, MH; Cynthia Zheng, OH. Schedule: SEPTEMBER — 6, at Lourdes Regional, 5:30 p.m.; 13 — at Upper Dauphin, 5:30 p.m.; 15 — HALIFAX, 11 a.m.; 17 — at Williamsport, 5:30 p.m.; 19 — at Shenandoah Valley, 5:30 p.m.; 25 — SUGAR VALLEY RURAL, 5:30 p.m.; 27 — CENTRAL MOUNTAIN, 5:30 p.m. OCTOBER — 1, WILLIAMS VALLEY, 5:30 p.m.; 4 — TRI-VALLEY, 5:30 p.m.; 8 — at Minersville, 5:30 p.m.; 11 — at Central Mountain, 5:30 p.m.; 13 — at Tri-Valley, 12 noon; 15 — at Millersburg, 5:30 p.m.; 17 — SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, 5:30 P.M.