Marietta High will be featuring several new faces in the starting volleyball lineup when it scrimmages at West Muskingum at 5 p.m. today.
Five Tiger starters graduated from last season's East Central Ohio League championship team, which finished with a 19-5 overall mark.
"I think we lost more talent than anybody else in our league," said fifth-year MHS head volleyball coach Ron Kidder.
RON JOHNSTON The Marietta Times
Left to right, Marietta High’s Lain Weppler, Gracie Haas, and Shannon Haessly line up for a volleyball drill at Sutton Gym on Saturday. The Tiger netters are scheduled to scrimmage West Muskingum today.
Of the five graduates, three Lexi Walsh (West Virginia Wesleyan), Kristen Hill (Muskingum University), and Haley Bonar (Ohio Valley University) - will be competing at the collegiate level this upcoming fall. Two others - All-Ohio honoree Kaitlyn Cozzens and Kourtney Crum - will be focusing on their education at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
Marietta won't exactly be starting from scratch, though, as varsity-tested veterans like middle hitter Gracie Haas, outside hitter Lain Weppler, setter Megan Broughton and middle hitter Holly Hutchison know what it takes to be successful on the volleyball court.
Haas and setter Jennifer Hefter are the only two Tiger seniors on the 2013 roster.
"The kids have worked hard on their game during the summer, and they're excited," said Kidder after Friday's second day of practice. "Right now, nothing is set, and there's a lot of competition for spots on the floor. Mostly, we're working on passing and defense in practice."
Some other Tiger netters to keep an eye on will be outside hitter Chrystal McCoy, defensive specialist Mattie Miller, libero Shannon Haessly, backside Abby Harrison, and backside Kenzi Hall. Many of the girls split time with the varsity and JV teams last season.
Kidder said that a couple of freshmen could be in the mix as well.
"We have a good freshmen team coming up," the MHS boss continued. "Overall, the program is in great shape with a lot of younger kids in the seventh and eighth grades playing."
Before its season-opening tri-match with Frontier and Vinton County on Aug. 17 at 10 a.m. at Sutton Gymnasium, Marietta has three other scrimmages scheduled at West Holmes Thursday, at John Glenn Aug. 13 and at Maysville Aug. 15.
"Before the season starts, there's a lot of things for us to work on," Kidder said.
As for the ECOL...while Marietta is the defending league champion, Dover could be the team to beat.
"Dover returns practically everybody," Kidder said. "They'll be tough, but then the ECOL is solid and always tough.
"I kind of look for us to be an underdog this season, but I'm hoping we'll be in the hunt. It's going to be interesting."