Wayne volleyball has been practicing, conditioning and playing against each other for the past two months and they are now eager to get the season started on Tuesday, Aug. 25 at West Carrollton.
Coach John Herzer said he has some of the best athleticism that he has seen since he has been at Wayne.
“We are young, athletic and very energetic,” he said. “We just need to keep that moving forward. We bring back numerous starters and have also added some quickness and aggressiveness in the middle. I have 10 girls that probably deserve to be on the floor at any given time. But with only six spots on the floor, playing time will be constantly changing. We have added only three new players since last year and I think that experience will only help us in the closer games.”
Returning is Herzer’s best hitter, Akaila Howard, who has been the team leader in kills the last two years.
“I see no reason why that should change,” said Herzer. “She now challenges herself to swing in situations that she might not have been as comfortable to do in the past. She has been a dominant force in our scrimmages this year. She’s been fun to watch.”
Other outside hitters are Amaya Howard and Katelyn Hill.
“Katelyn is such a smart hitter, seldom gets blocked and can cut a ball that just leaves you wondering how she does it,” said Herzer. “There is not a single area in Katelyn’s game that has not improved from last year. Amaya, although short for an outside, brings incredible strength, athleticism and has the ability to jump right out of the gym. She is much improved as well.”
The middle hitters for Wayne are young.
“I have sophomore Jameson Logan who brings energy, athleticism and a bulldog-like mentality when she’s on the floor,” said Herzer. “There is no quit in her. She brings what you like in a middle. She owns the net and wants to show everyone that she does. She takes it as a personal challenge. She is getting more and more comfortable and will be a force by the end of the season.”
Herzer said that freshman Kayla Stephens has a swing that you hate to miss when she is on the floor.
“She is learning and getting better every day,” he said. “She is highly energetic as well. If the ball is near her she is going to take her swing. She does not get cheated. During our summer informal workouts, I honestly had never met Kayla before she came in the gym. I heard her swing; I didn’t need to see it. The future is bright for Kayla.
Wayne has one right side setter that will be returning from last year in Marisa Underwood.
“She has made great strides in her setting and has actually improved in every aspect of her game as well,” said Herzer. “Her net front presence has already been better as she has had several blocks in our scrimmages. Her setting is far better and her decision making has greatly improved. She sets with a purpose now and understands what’s on the other side of the net. Marisa sees mismatches and uses them to our advantage.”
A newcomer to the squad is Maya Dunson, who at five feet and 10 inches tall, has great leaping abilities,” according to Herzer.
“Her athleticism has been awe inspiring,” said Herzer. “She is leading in blocks in the preseason and I can only hope that continues. I see no reason why it shouldn’t. She has a game changing swing and very, very strong hands. Our team is better for having her. Maya is always smiling and has a great attitude in general.
Tarah Combs returns from last year and will be used as a third setter and serve specialist.
“She has a very aggressive serve that will be nice to use at just the right time,” said Herzer. “She serves a very heavy ball that is very difficult to pass.”
Wayne sports three defensive specialists, all returning from last year: senior Tyson Kinnel, junior Morgan Santos and sophomore Sydney Herzer.
“Tyson always brings great athleticism and energy,” said Herzer. “She is my vocal leader and has a take-charge mentality. She is a competitor. Tyson can play anywhere on the floor effectively and I utilized that last year with success. Her passion is defense and taking away the other teams will to hit. She loves to dig great swings.”
“Morgan is a little quieter on the floor than my other two but her presence is always felt,” added Herzer. “She has a workman-like attitude and is a very dependable passer.”
Herzer said that Sydney Herzer has dedicated herself to become a better, well-around player and was the team leader in serve percentage last year and has been pretty dominant in serving this year in scrimmages.
“Sydney is a very consistent passer,” he said. “She sets the ball well and provides a good back row attack.”
Herzer said that one of the funniest things to watch in practice from this group of passers is watching them compare bruises and floor burns.
“There is no lack of effort from any of these three,” he said. “As a group, they are passing better than any of my hitters right now. I tell them every day it all starts with them. Their role is just as important as the hitter and setter. Without that first pass, none of what we do is even possible.”
Herzer said the toughest aspect of coaching will be juggling “who is having the hot hand.”
“This is such an emotional game that sometimes the girls do get down on themselves,” he said. “Once they realize and understand that they are also the ones that can turn things to the positive, things will go very well for us. I am looking forward to this season and I know the girls are ready for the season to start.”
Reach Greg Smart at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com.