Rock Hill volleyball coach Cindy Elder begins her 24th season at the helm of the Bearcats program and is excited about getting started in the regular-season campaign.
We have got a lot of experience returning, said Elder, whose team finished as the Upper State runner-up last year. Couple that with a fantastic senior class, and I am very optimistic about what we can do this fall.
Senior setter Christen Bragg, who was last years region player of the year, headlines the list of five returning starters from last years team that finished 14-0 in Region 3-AAAA and 17-2 before entering the playoffs.
She will be one of our leaders this fall, Elder said of Bragg. She was just named to the Under Armour All-American Player Watch List, and I am really looking forward to what she can do.
Sutton Alexander, Gracie Barnes, Ashley Williams and Holly Hewitt are the other four returning seniors who are expected to have banner campaigns this fall. Barnes and Hewitt are outside hitters, Alexander is a middle blocker, and Williams plays the libero position.
Adele Robinson, Whitney Maness and Emily Russell are also being counted on to contribute this fall. All three are sophomores, but Elder is relying on them heavily.
We have good depth, said Elder. We have a total of eight lettermen returning, and we have experience at every position.
The region was difficult a season ago, and Elder expects that to be the case again.
Playing in such a tough region last year really helped us when we got to the playoffs, Elder said. I look for the region to be even tougher and more balanced than it was last year. We will have our work cut out for us.
The Bearcats warmed up for the season on a good note last weekend by winning the Best of the Best Tournament at Davidson College.
This tournament might have been a defining moment for us, said Elder. There were some really tough teams in that tournament, and we had to play very well to beat them and win.
Rock Hill also is playing a demanding nonregion schedule. The Bearcats scheduled all tournament games out of the region and will play teams from all over the state.
This will give us a good idea of what is going on around the state as the year goes along, said Elder. It will also provide us with the best competition that is available outside of our region.
Assistant coach Janie Julian is back for her 10th season.
She is such a good coach, said Elder. She does all the stats and the motivation. She knows the game, and the players love her.
Rock Hills goal is to win the state championship this season, and Elder is hopeful because of a number of reasons.
We do not have any superstars, but we play well as a team, said the veteran coach. We have a Division I setter, a pair of 6-foot middle blockers, and two senior outside hitters. I also feel like we have the best libero in the state.