The Glen Este girls’ volleyball team began the 2012 season with only four players on their roster who had any real varsity experience and although they went through a rough patch in the first third of the season, head coach Cheryl Korfhagen is seeing improvement with each passing day.
“We are a very young team, we lost six seniors last year who basically played all of the time,” Korfhagen said. “My expectations were for us to learn how to play together and keep a good team chemistry that we’ve had over the past few years.
“We kind of had a slow start, but we did have a big win over Milford (on Sept. 13) who was in first place in five games. That was a big win and I think we can do it. They just need to be confident and prove it to themselves.”
The win over Milford ? 27-25, 17-25, 18-25, 25-17, 15-12 ? last week came off the heels of a six-match losing streak that Korfhagen said had a lot to do with the team doing a lot of traveling and never really settling into their new roles.
“We seem to be playing a lot better when we’re at home. We had a long stretch of away games,” Korfhagen said. “From Aug. 31 until (Sept. 13) we were away. So, the girls were pretty pumped up to be home and it really helped the girls out because we have a good fan base here that follow us.”
Since returning back home, the Lady Trojans have turned things around, starting with the big win over Eastern Cincinnati Conference rival Milford, and carrying that momentum over the last week with four wins in their last five matches.
Also important as the season winds down for Glen Este is the regularity in which they will play at home. Five of their last eight matches will be played on home turf.
Between their homecourt advantage and Korfhagen’s team gaining more and more experience, the coach’s expectations for the rest of the year have improved.
First things first, those new players needed to get acclimated with their new roles as well as the teammates that they are competing alongside.
One of the biggest holes Korfhagen needed to fill coming into to 2012 was the void in the defense left by libero Taylor Herrmenn, who had occupied the spot for the last four years. Shea Hollingshead has assumed that role.
“Shea’s taken over that role,” Korfhagen said. “She played defense for me a little bit last year, but she was really nervous about it, but she’s done a great job. A number of coaches have complimented her to me.”
Cassidy Greenwood has assumed the setting role for the Lady Trojans, assisted by Caroline Calhoun, both juniors. While both of them split time earlier in the year, Korfhagen recently switched the Lady Trojans formation to a 5-1, which uses only one setter and Greenwood is controlling that spot.
Jenny Howell, a junior middle blocker, saw some time last season on varsity and has shown her experience by becoming one of the top blockers in the league with 37 blocks through 45 games.
Also helping out the first-year ECC team are Abby Barton, Alyssa Brinkman, Ellory Overcast, Jenny Howell, Kenzie Hall, Madison Libengood and Shelby Simmons. Sophomore Dannie Atmore is leading the ECC in service aces with 36. Korfhagen said in her 14 years at Glen Este, she has never had anyone with that many through 13 games.
Leah Patrick, a senior outside hitter and Kaitlin Sturgeon, a defensive specialist, anchor the Lady Trojans as the two most experienced players, both seeing time each of their four years at Glen Este.
The Lady Trojans, coming off of a straight sets win over Princeton on Monday, Sept. 14 traveled to Turpin on Tuesday before returning home Thursday, Sept. 25 to host Anderson.
As Glen Este tries to get everything they can out of the season, Korfhagen believes their schedule sets up favorably.
“I think we’re going to be home against some of those teams that we struggled against away, so that will work in our favor,” the coach said. “I also think the younger players now have a half of a year of experience and I think they’ll be more ready for the second half of the season because they know what to expect at the varsity level.”