LAMOILLE — Hallie May has to contain her excitement when she talks about her LaMoille/Ohio volleyball team this year.
While they may have lost 2013 co-BCR Player of the Year Shiela Browning, now at Sauk Valley, May’s program has never looked better. She has 27 girls out this season, including eight girls from neighboring Ohio. The varsity squad is deep with nine seniors and four juniors to go with seven sophomores and seven freshmen in the program.
“We have a lot of experience with nine seniors who have really dedicated themselves to this program for the past four years. Two of the 4 juniors were a huge part of our success last year as sophomores. I don’t see graduation affecting us like many think it will,” May said.
“I certainly miss seeing all the past players but we are focused on the present and I really believe we will be more balanced up front and that is going to make us much more unpredictable for our opponents.
Key returners for the Lady Lions include senior libero Ragen Forbes, and senior mids Toni Lawrence and Elizabeth Geuther. Forbes brings three years of varsity experience and May said Lawrence and Geuther have made great strides over the summer.
Competing for spots alongside Forbes in the back row are senior Madi Walker, juniors Jordyn Pinter and Sarah Hunter and sophomore Riley Johnson.
May has many options to choose from to play outside and opposite, a group including seniors Alyssa Martin, Kaitlyn Hughes, Emily Fahs and Monica Joerger and junior Erika Zimmerlein. Hughes returns after missing last year with knee surgery.
“All five are working hard at practices so we will try some different things with this group until we find what really seems to click,” May said,
Senior Erin Bennett and junior Rae Schultz will run a 6-2 offense again. May said they “work great together and I’m confident they will be able to spread the ball around to our hitters.”
Prospects to watch include sophomore Paige Conner and freshman Lexi Loftus, both of Ohio.
With such a larger number of players, May entered two varsity level teams in the Westwood summer league to get each play the maximum amount of reps.
“I’m hoping the experience we gained over the summer will really translate into success in the regular season. I think that worked out nicely for us and really shows our depth as both teams were competitive in a league where we are by far the smallest school,” May said.
Team captains this year will be seniors Hughes, Bennett and Forbes
Monday’s season opener vs. Amboy was canceled due to the heat. The Lady Lions will make their debut Thursday in Ohio against Woodland.