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Getting set at the net
Volleyball teams gear up for season
South Forsyth varsity volleyball coach Kelly Wren watches as middle hitter Kinsey Williams, a junior, goes on the attack at the net during a recent practice. Wren is beginning her first season at the helm for the Lady War Eagles. - photo by Jared Putnam

Football, softball and cross country are staples of the fall sports season in Georgia, but not all the action is outdoors.

There’ll be plenty of excitement on the court as volleyball hits its opening serve in the coming days.

Head coach Kelly Wren is  entering her first season with the program at South Forsyth, state playoff qualifiers for the last two seasons.

In an attempt to build on past success and keep the program competitive, Wren says South will put a freshman team on the court for the first time this season, while the varsity will travel to Hoover, Ala., for a competitive regional tournament.

The Lady War Eagles feature juniors Kinsey Williams and Ashley Oaks at middle hitter, with juniors Alyssa Templeton, Michaela Grass and Kinsey Trzcinski taking the outside position.

Senior Katie Onushko brings a veteran hand to the right side. Senior Jenni Huff will play the libero, with junior Kelsey Dolan and senior Jordan Viduna working at setter.

Wren says she will focus both on developing her younger talent and working to get the team deep into the state playoffs, after the Lady Eagles made it to the second round in Class AAAAA last season.

“Our team is relatively young, so I’ll have a couple of years to fully develop the talent. I know the girls would like to see us make it to the finals this year and I intend to give them the tools they need to do so,” Wren said. “I couldn’t ask for better attitudes, work ethic or drive. I have a coach’s dream job.”

South opens the season Aug. 22, competing in West Forsyth’s early-season weekend tournament.

As for West, the Lady Wolverines will look to put on an encore from last season’s trip to the Class AAA state playoffs, achieved in the program’s first year of existence.

“We still don’t have any seniors, so it’s still a very young group,” coach Meredith Phillips said of her 12-deep varsity roster. “I think we could have some surprises.”

Phillips said the program had a better chance to scour the school for talent this year. She said holding tryouts in May last season before opening the school in the fall didn’t give the program a chance to get the word out adequately.

The West varsity is made up of Emily Baum, Rebecca Bishop, Heidi Bonilla, Daniela Cavallo, Katie Conway, Erinn Fasy, Jessica Feltracco, Jessica Lewis, Megan Pepe, Rebekah Ropp ,Kristine Thompson and Kelsey Turchi.

“Obviously, we’d like to do better [than last year] ... but I just look for every girl to improve. That’s our biggest thing. Play as a team and get better at individual skills and at team building and things like that,” Phillips said.

West will be in the Sequoyah tournament on Saturday to start the year.

Chuck Adams enters his second year as head coach at Forsyth Central looking to transition the team into a new home in Class AAAA.

“Last year the program started with a new coach and it only had a couple of remaining players from 2006. Our season was a building year and this year we have taken steps to accomplish [more of] that,” Adams said.

Among the new wrinkles for the Lady Bulldogs this year is the addition of Carla Harmon to the junior varsity staff, who has experience playing and coaching volleyball at the college and club levels.

Players enter the season with some extra experience, Adams said, with several Lady Dawgs having played for a local club program and JV team members taking advanced club training.

Adams said he believes all 10 varsity players — Whitney Mansfeldt, Holly Hildebrandt, Rachel Davis, Lindsay Kelly, Kelly Stanfield, Tanya Rusev, Haley Plouffe, Abbey Patinella, Hailey Campbell and Paige Campbell — have the potential to be starters on the team.

Central breaks from the gate Tuesday with a trip to North Forsyth to meet the host Raiders and Berkmar.

North coach Chuck Crawford enters his third season leading the Lady Raiders with the program on a clear upward slope. Last season brought a 26-20 record, North’s first winning season in six years.

This year, Crawford expects the team to be led by senior Casey Praznik, as well as juniors Callan Bennett, Lindsey Bryant and Kady Curl, on offense, with junior Courtney Mills and senior Kayla Wood expected to lead the way on defense.

Senior Anna Mertz, junior Melissa McMullen and sophomores Jenna Hoffman and Brittany Verke are also on-board for the Raider varsity.

North starts the season Saturday at the Sequoyah tournament.