SARAHSVILLE- The Shenandoah Lady Zeps volleyball team will move down a division in 2013 and head coach Shannon Leasure hopes that will translate into a deeper run in the playoffs.
"We moved down to Division 4 this season for the first time in years," said Leasure, who will be assisted by Colleen Kasper in 2013. "We are hoping with this move and lots of hard work, we will see more post season success than in previous years."
The Lady Zeps will need to replace several key performers from last years team including Carina Winland, Michaela Warner, and both of their starting outside hitters in Ashley Zwick and Morgan Diehl, who will both be playing volleyball this fall for Muskingum University.
Leasure will look to the four seniors on this year's roster to replace the leadership lost from the 2012 graduates who defeated Martins Ferry in their district tournament opener before being eliminated by conference rival Fort Frye.
Lexi Christman figures to fill the libero spot, while Raechel Rossiter returns as the starting middle hitter.
"Lexi is a very hard worker, plays with a lots of energy, and is one of our on -the -floor leaders," said Leasure. "Raechel has worked very hard this summer and improved immensely on both her hitting and blocking ability."
A pair of seniors will also return to the Lady Zep squad after some time away from the nets in Blake Hall and Amber Wickam.
"Blake is very athletic and a great blocker, and Amber is a very fundamental hitter who continues to improve everyday." said the Shenandoah head coach.
Leasure feels that one of the key strengths of her squad will be their versatility.
"Depending on who we are playing, we have many options both offensively and defensively," said Leasure, who also serves as boys track and field coach at Shenandoah. "With our overall athleticism, we look to be much more mobile and less predictable."
Among those options are five returning juniors in Olivia Schroeder, Ashlee Wukelich, Kaysey King, Kylee Kasper and Jessica Long.
Rounding out the Lady Zep roster will be a pair of sophomores in McKenzie Wray and Jenna Cowgill, both of whom should see their fair share of playing time.
"McKenzie is a smart player with a great serve and Jenna is a versatile, strong player who will be playing both middle and outside." said Leasure.
Leasure sees no reason why her 2013 squad can't pick right up where last year's team left off.
"Those girls will be missed," said Leasure speaking of the four graduates from last year's squad. "But we thankfully have many returning talented players who are ready to fill some major roles and fulfill our expectations."
Shenandoah will host the Lady Muskies of John Glenn High School in a volleyball preview on Friday night before opening their season for good at Meadowbrook on August 22.