By Chris Parker
Excitement is high in the Pleasant Hope volleyball program entering coach Crystal Turner’s third season as head coach of the program. The softball program has moved its season to the spring which has opened the door for more athletes to join the volleyball program.
“Our softball program has seen much success and is a first class program. Being able to have many of those ladies who have been a part of that success join our efforts will have positive effects,” Turner said. “Although these ladies coming to us from softball have not played school volleyball since junior high, a few of them have already made a positive impact in varsity league games. Summer numbers are up, there are several varsity position opportunities that look to be hotly contested, and competitive scrimmage opportunities will be possible much more than they have been in previous years.”
Karli Lane returns for her sophomore season after leading the team with 80 kills last season. She will be joined by fellow middle hitters junior Janea Shirk and freshman Jianna Halbrook. Shirk is a softball player joining the team this year. Halbrook will also see time setting.
The outside hitting corps will be comprised of senior Brianna Griffith, juniors Gwen McClain and Ashanti Price along with sophomores Mirabelle Haney and Keighlyn Johnson. Johnson will also set after leading the team with 103 assists last year.
The competition for libero will be fierce between returner Shayla Howard and two players coming over from softball in Abby Henson and Katelyn Stewart. Howard had 102 digs last season.
Stephanie Dejue, Monica Cru and Courtney Jenkins are other new faces that could contribute this year.
Pleasant Hope moves from the Mid-Lakes to the reborn Southwest Conference this season.
“We will be looking at the new conference with the expectation of being able to compete in every match,” Turner said. “The new Southwest Conference is loaded with volleyball tradition, and although the prospects of not facing volleyball powers like Fair Grove and Strafford in conference play are attractive, hearty respect and vigorous preparation will be necessary in order to see success amidst the long time volleyball traditions that each of the five SRVC programs we are joining bring with them.”
Pleasant Hope will look to jell throughout the preseason with big goals for the season.
“I see our squad coming into its own at some point this season and being very hard to beat. Last year with a freshmen heavy squad in a deadly volleyball conference our goal was to compete, this year our goal will be to place ourselves in a position to win in every match on our regular season schedule,” Turner said. “We hope to achieve this by pushing to 20 points and beyond in every set. Our growth potential is great and our postseason fate should be a barometer of that growth fulfillment, both for my individual athletes and for the team overall.”