YORK -- With a combination of first-year varsity players eager to learn and seasoned veterans, the York Comprehensive High School volleyball team is ready to make its presence felt in Region 3-AAAA.
Head coach Julie McGee continues to evaluate the Lady Cougars' progress after several preseson scrimmages.
She is looking to build a solid foundation of skills and game experience to help lead the team this season and beyond.
Said McGee, "I am relying on the leadership of our upperclassman, like Shealy Bigach, Kierra Anderson, Courtney Doster and seniors Tori Bailey and Keely Wells to help teach our new players the intensity it takes to play at the varsity level."
She said the experience from last year's junior varsity team will help Gina Patton, Courtney Quinters, Laura Caruso, Peyton Nunn and Bethany Moorefield adjust to the varsity level.
"I am impressed with our freshman players new to YCHS volleyball, Sloane Brandon, Amber Hyatt and Amy Herbert," noted McGee. "These girls are hard workers and I feel they will contribute to the team this year.
"I feel we are starting to build a volleyball program here in York and it starts at the elementary/middle schools. Some of the elementary schools in our district have had an after school volleyball program that has helped the interest grow in the sport."
Two years ago, McGee started a volleyball intramural program at Harold C. Johnson Middle School for sixth and seventh graders. The number of girls playing has increased from about 50 the first year to 94 last year.
Intramurals have impacted the numbers at tryouts, which McGee said is helping to make the volleyball program stronger at all levels.
Senior standouts Wells and Bailey, who have been playing volleyball together since seventh-grade, were optimistic following last week's scrimmage with Clover.
"We were down and came back against Clover," commented Wells.
Added Bailey, "We're small, young and scrappy. We'll be better than people think."
Bailey and Wells assume the role of big sisters to the younger participants.
"We show them what they need to do on the court," noted Bailey.
Wells said most of the players on this year's team have grown up together, which makes it easier for first-year participants to learn the varsity way of doing things.
McGee feels the Lady Cougars are ready to make an impact in region play.
"We are a very athletic group with raw volleyball talent," she said. "I feel we have the right players on this team to get the job done this year and for years to come.
"We can only build our program up from this point."
The YCHS girls open the season Sept. 3 at Indian Land. The region opener is Sept. 23 at Gaffney.